London Student

Ben Khan – Ben Khan: “Quite a work of art”

8/10


Exciting, funky, and wonderfully weird, Ben Khan’s debut album of soulful electronic beats takes a different shape in every song. No doubt it is electronic music, but Khan brings an experimental lo-fi scrap, with highs and lows familiar from rock and roll. Admittedly, Ben Khan draws from the work of others: the off-kilter beats of J Dilla, the sound-collage style of Jai Paul, the vocal delivery and maximalism of Twin Shadow. But an edge is brought by Khan’s propensity to latch these songs onto guitar licks and bring in sounds and imagery from his Kashmiri family background.

Khan’s style of electronic music is fresh and alternative, catering to those who are interested in new music. And part of that novelty comes from a fusion of ostensibly disparate styles. ‘merchant prince’ is very distinctive with its rough melody and angsty lyrics, and the strangeness of his approach infuses soft melodies with sort of a classic rock beat in the background. ‘monsoon daydream’ is less than 3 minutes but full of beats, with a merge between ‘90s electronic music and a slacker-rock style of singing. This wonderful blend is a recipe for great music.

With the short tracks, Khan has a way of teasing the listener with obscure pop sounds – building tension and constantly striving for a climax that remains out of reach. At almost a minute long, ‘fool for you’, is an emotional reckoning with a swift guitar solo that adds a certain rock star persona to Ben Khan.

On closer ‘warriors rose’, Khan creates a lascivious atmosphere as he sings of “Dancing with desire”, but he lets the static sensuously crackle for a good two and half minutes before dropping the beat and allowing the built-up energy to discharge like a bolt of lightning – the producer, who waited five years between the emergence of his first demo in 2013 and the release of this debut, knows that giving the listener what they want is only as important as making them wait for it. This album is quite a work of art for such a young producer; it can only get better from here.