Though he’s been into writing and performing music since he was a kid, 2014 was a big year for Ben Khan, as his 1992 EP was received to critical acclaim. For a musician to have a moment of breakthrough in the space of one successful year can lead to being carried away with the attention and excitement of it all, especially if that musician is only 22.
But it seems Ben’s relative success has been more of a motivation to keep his head down and continue working on his craft, rather than bask in his momentary glory. With confidence that belies his age, the musician slash producer from the UK is releasing the four track 1000 EP.
Straight away, we’re encouraged to kick off our shoes and jump and dance around the kitchen. That’s where the first track, 1000, first hit my ears, anyway. Featuring a fast-paced hi-hat beat throughout, the other elements (keyboard synth, bluesy electric guitar and laid-back vocals in a reasonably high register) weave amongst each other to create one cohesive package. Red gives off a much more chilled vibe, dominated by a deep synth that contrasts with his multiple leaps into falsetto vocal territory. The intermittent input from some buttery, blues guitar licks reveal his musical foundation as a guitarist. The percussive excerpts of pots and pans (I could be wrong here, but that’s what it sounds like!) give the song a real grounded feel; there’s something strangely genuine about using banal household objects to add depth to his music.
Zenith is the most lyrical track, and Ben demonstrates that his vocal strength lies in his voice’s smooth simplicity. Although tension in relationships seems to be a theme in the EP’s lyrics generally, they’re really at the forefront here, competing with, but slightly outshining, more effortless guitar. The EP’s finale is also it’s shortest but most atmospheric tune, 2022 Zodiac, which is reflected by his imagery-rich lyrics: ‘Summer solstice got me on a twist /A zephyr blazing through the mist’.
If we are to get to know an artist through the music that they release, my understanding of Ben Khan is a determined, self-assured thinker who isn’t concerned with proving himself to others. I’m intrigued to follow where this journey he is on will take him: if Ben seems this comfortable in his own musical skin at this relatively early stage, we should be excited to see what he brings us in the future.