I came across Ben Khan last year after the release of his four track EP 1992, and from the very first listen I was hooked. His unique penchant for soulful, funky electronic tracks with incredible melodies and guitars that reminded me of Dave Harrington’s work in Darkside were infectious to the point where I’d play it on repeat, multiple times a day.
So as you might expect, I was over the moon to hear that a brand new EP was on its way. And now it’s here. 1000 is really interesting. You can certainly hear progression since his last release, while he’s retained a sound that I dare call his ‘signature.’ Each track showcases something entirely different from the others, and each track is remarkable.
Opening on title track 1000, the shuffling beat is a little muddier, and a lot more subdued than what I’d come to expect. The swift beat and bluesy bass get you in the mood, before the deep and super playful melody comes in. It’s a lighthearted way to kick off the record, setting the scene, getting you in the mood. From here, we move on to the slow and sultry Red, slathered with a deep, crackly bass and bubbly funk guitars. The vocals kind of take a backseat here, intertwining with the other layers rather than taking the lead. The sensual, velvety atmosphere has a shady edge to it, one which I certainly wasn’t expecting, but one which I really love.
Second single Zenith continues in that understated vein, but at the same time it’s the closest sound to his earlier tracks. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d written this one closer to the release of 1992. The rich vocals are catchy and full of soul, while the beat immediately pulls you into a serious groove. Satisfyingly bluesy, while still bright and funky, it’s really hard not to dance to this track!
At just under two minutes, EP closer 2022 Zodiac is probably my favourite track on the EP, despite being less than two minutes long. The subdued sound is cool, calm and collected, with a bobbing rhythm and simple, beautiful tones. Khan picks out some of the strongest moments from the three previous tracks – a crunchy, crackly bass which contrasts against those gorgeous synths, bluesy chords and a seductively smooth atmosphere. Extending his experimental arms further than ever before, eerie vocal samples break up the music. The scared voices speak of mystery and unknown beings, toying with your imagination, putting all sorts of spine-tingling ideas in your head.
Ben Khan is on a journey, and he’s bringing all of us along with him. Musically, emotionally, experimentally, it’s fascinating to hear how his music and style blooms within itself, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next. Step by step, he’s drawing us in. These EPs are but tiny puddles in the endless oceans we hear each year; it’s not even twelve minutes long, but it’s enough to make me yearn for so much more.