In October of 2013 I got my first taste of Ben Khan when he Pitchfork posted “Eden” and gave it Best New Track. With R&B vocals, bluesy guitar licks, and eerily swelling synth lines the genre-mashing song’s appeal was immediate. Although the sole other track he had released, “Drive (Part 1),” had popped up on numerous music blogs there was scarce information available on the London-based producer and singer. Finally Khan’s first official release, 1992 EP, is out today. You can stream it at his Soundcloud page or head to iTunes to buy it.
After reading his chat with Noisey in January (his first proper interview), my assumption that he might be Indian due to his last name was confirmed. Khan’s father was a silk-maker born in Kashmir, and apparently helped create the tapestry in the above press photo.
Other revelations from that interview include the major influence of surrealistic paintings and films on his music, specifically Salvador Dali. This is not surprising if you watch the racy video for “Drive (Part 1)” below – which is up there with Beyonce’s “Partition” among dark and sultry R&B songs from last year about having sex in the back of a moving vehicle.
Although all four songs on the EP have been floating around on the Internet, listening to them back-to-back in the form of 1992 makes it apparent that Khan has a fully realized aesthetic with plenty of ideas from which to mine.
Early comparisons to Jai Paul along with Khan’s decision to, at first, severely limit information about and photos of himself had me nervous. I worried that like with Paul, we might never get to hear an officially released collection of songs. Thus I rejoice that 1992 EP exists less than a year after his first track made the rounds and am even more satisfied that it’s so cohesive and consistent. Still, I suspect that now that the 21-year-old has clearly defined himself his most interesting work could easily be yet to come.