Available to buy on iTunes
Review: On the artwork for his latest EP, the monochrome shadows that further dramatise the square jaw of electro-R&B prodigy Ben Khan are upstaged by a florescent floral border and hot pink tears. This contrast serves as a statement of sorts; he may have perfected an intriguing if humourless pose with the release of last year’s 1992 EP, but Khan still sees the value in flamboyant embellishments.
Khan’s earlier output could often feel alien and self-contained. The warm, prancing synth of the acclaimed “Youth” was frequently pierced by cocked guns and human wails, and it scanned as the work of a sojourning extra-terrestrial tasked with condensing both the excitement and humbling helplessness of the human experience into a three-minute romp.
Meanwhile, the 1000 EP is fronted by a title track that pitches an unambiguous chorus (“But I don’t need much / Just a touch / ‘Cause you’re just a crush”) over the same jingling drum machine as that of the 2003 Kelis and Andre 3000 collaboration “Millionaire”. Propelled by a rush of bubbly funktronica and references to “cocaine eyes” that will have complicit students smirking in their dorms, “1000” is easily Khan’s most polished and broadly appealing song to date.
The EP’s additional cuts are more faithful to the DIY charm that has so far defined Khan’s sound. On the ponderous “Red”, squiggles of guitar are filtered through the same gauze as the burbling synths that drift patiently towards the track’s unfocused romanticism, with only Khan’s thick and smoky tone managing to scythe through the uniform haze. The basement disco of “Zenith” is imminently more engaging, with rubbery 80’s keyboards and buttered guitar licks quickly establishing a neon-lit groove.
With not a single track on the 1000 EP surpassing the three-minute mark, it remains to be seen how effectively Khan’s graceful and contemplative style could be expanded into a full-length album. But on “Zodiac 2022”, a glorified outro at barely two minutes in length, he at least seems to be asking the right questions: “Where do we go to satisfy my love?”
If there is one thing this release proves, it is that Khan’s love is in music, and no matter where that love continues to take him, the plaudits are sure to follow.