After garnering a lot of hype following the release of his earlier EP’s 1992 EP and 1000, Ben Khan felt disillusioned and took a break from making music. This was because he wanted to create an album and release it on his own terms. His highly anticipated self-titled debut is released on Friday 10th August, returning from a three-year hiatus. It is evident that on listening to the album, it recalls music from a dystopian future, with lavish production and woozy creative synths layered all over.
On the opening track, ‘2000 Angels’, the bubbly production really hits you. It’s huge, bombastic, and the thumping drums help it stand out. The same applies to the second track, ‘do it right’ with the constant fluid drums keeping pace with its increasing atmosphere.
There are some moments on this record which are epic. An example of this is the recent single ‘Monsoon Daydream.’ It’s reminiscent of a funky atmospheric disco, with table samples bringing a distinctly Indian influence. It works superbly because each instrument can be heard clearly. The bass is slightly reminiscent of Daft Punk, however, retains enough originality to carry its own flavour, while the vocals float beautifully over the slick instrumentation.
In comparison to Khan’s earlier work, the production is bigger with the focus on the synths and wavy effects on the guitars. This creates a more expansive soundscape, however at times they dominate the mix too much and the effect is lost as a result.
‘A.T.W (against the wall)’ is one of the catchiest songs on the album. Brimming with melody and beautiful instrumentation and a stunning chorus, it’s in a league of its own as the overlapping synths bring out the atmosphere. The bridge takes things to a darker territory, the moody sounding synths demonstrate that Khan isn’t afraid to experiment. The song then transitions smoothly into the minute-long funk jam ‘fool for you.’ It’s essentially an interlude, and the production is so clear that it gives the listener space to breathe.
Up next, ‘The Green’ plays to the album’s strengths, with the use of overlapping vocal melodies and a smooth saxophone. Like the vast majority of the album, it is unlike anything you’ve heard this year, with the futuristic production making for an immersive experience. However, at the midpoint of the album, there are some songs which show promise but ultimately fail to deliver. For example while ‘Our Father’ has lovely soulful vocals, they feel lost in the distorted muffled kick drum.
‘Waterfall’ is another highlight. It features some luscious melodic synths which help the listener imagine that they are sitting by a waterfall. It’s an exciting track that draws you in, containing so much depth and emotion.
On the whole, while some of the production can be overpowering, Ben Khan has crafted a record that sounds like it’s from the future, with a modern, creative twist. Ben Khan is definitely worth the wait because it will take you on an epic, refreshing journey.
Words by Ermis Madikopoulos