'...a dystopian undercurrent flows throughout the LP. Khan draws upon an unusual variety of sounds, marrying echoes of propelling helicopter blades with faint dhrupad vocals on ‘Ruby’, and supermarket-scanner bleeps with distorted bluesy guitar on ‘Love Faded’'. Online Music Editor Bethany Marris reviews Ben Khan's debut album, out now.
London-based musician, producer and singer-songwriter Ben Khan rose to prominence five years ago following the SoundCloud release of ‘Drive (Pt.1)’. The track comprised of throbbing basslines and hazy falsetto tapped heavily into the contemporary sounds of Jai Paul, with vocals akin to Jamie Isaac and James Blake. ‘Drive Pt.1’ concludes Khan’s first full body of work, 1992: a four-track EP released in May 2014.
Each track on 1992 boasts at least two and a half million Spotify listens, consequently generating Khan a solid, album-awaiting fan base. The artist’s 2015 follow-up project (1000 EP), however, appeared to be a slight regression, with cliché lines such as "Can’t take my eyes / off your eyes baby" accentuating lyrical weakness early on.
Moreover, the creative decision to compress all songs under three minutes resulted in the EP feeling over-saturated and unnecessarily dense. Following 1000, quietly but consciously, Khan withdrew from all things music, dulling any anticipation surrounding a potential LP.
This silence was finally broken back in April, as Ben revealed the album’s opening track ‘2000 Angels’. With a beat comprised of laser zaps and sharp, electronic drum loops under warped vocals, it quickly became clear that Khan’s sound had evolved.
The video accompanying ‘2000 Angels’ is equally as extravagant, and according to the artist it was inspired by his reading around the concept of ‘simulated reality’. Since the coming of Ben Khan was confirmed, five more songs have been dropped.
As these singles also foreshadow, a dystopian undercurrent flows throughout the LP. Khan draws upon an unusual variety of sounds, marrying echoes of propelling helicopter blades with faint dhrupad vocals on ‘Ruby’, and supermarket-scanner bleeps with distorted bluesy guitar on ‘Love Faded’.
These tracks have no doubt conjured hype around Khan’s work, although allowing fans to digest almost half of the album prior to its release could taint its success as a cohesive project. Hopefully, however, this won’t be the case, and Ben Khan will be received as an intricate, ambitiously produced debut record.
Featured image: Dirty Hit / Ben Khan
Ben Khan is out now - listen to it here