Arriving on the electro scene in the wake of Jungle, Banks and Jai Paul, Ben Khan might be the latest in a long line of enigmatic artists refusing to reveal little more than their name to the general public. But his eclectic incorporation of everything from the blues of BB King to the hip-hop of J Dilla to the artwork of Salvadore Dali into his early work suggests that he can get away with simply letting the music do the talking.
Having promised the two million listeners who have discovered his work through Soundcloud that he won’t remain silent forever (“you have a relationship with someone, it has to progress”), the 21-year-old has recently started to trickle details about his life to the public—specifically, the move from the Oxfordshire countryside to London at the age of twelve which inspired him to take up songwriting, the admission that he spent his post high-school years selling weed, and the fact that his father is a Kashmir-born silk-maker whose designs have influenced his own visual image.
But other than that, the four striking and provocative self-made promos that have been uploaded over the last twelve months are the only other concessions Ben Khan has made to the industry game. Although unsurprisingly, his face doesn’t appear in any of them, with Khan instead largely opting for collages of trippy psychedelic visuals, random clips of historic news events and scenes from his favorite films (Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, Only God Forgives, The Shining).
Named after the year in which he was born, his debut E.P., 1992, pursues a similarly hypnotic cut-and-paste style. “Eden” throws everything from wailing elephant trumpets to Jimi Hendrix-ish guitar licks to ominous synths into one gloriously inventive mix. “Drive (Part 1)” sees Khan’s smooth neo-soul tones glide over an inspired blend of murky electro, dirty Southern blues and staccato R&B which leaves you eagerly awaiting Part 2. And “Youth” even manages to give the over-used “Yeah! Woo!” sample a new lease of life with its dreamy Twin Shadow-esque production.
In the end, the rapturous response to his exquisite melting pot of sounds suggests that Ben Khan doesn’t need to tell his whole life story in order to hold audiences’ attention.