Like most artists, Ben Khan is influenced by everything that surrounds him. It is easy to presume therefore that Ben Khan spends a lot of time in his home city of London, perusing the Dali collection at the Tate Modern. His father was born in Kashmir and specialises in design and textiles; Ben specialises in neo-soul with digital effects that dissolve into vaguely ominous R&B. His Kashmir heritage is rooted in the precision and calligraphy of Sanskrit – an alluring art form that peppers his music, videos and label cover with deft symbolism.
Khan successfully blends dream and reality through his music, much like Dali’s magnum opus ‘The Persistence of Memory.’ The sultry and sinister funk of ‘Eden’ and ‘Savage’ rely on a thick bass synth that undulates under Khan’s hushed vocals. His voice blends into the background like a well piqued sample, forcing the listener to grapple further with the intangible notoriety of Khan himself. The hook on ‘Eden’ masquerades as the call of an elephant or a horn, or horns designed to sound like elephants. Either way, the elephant-like horns coupled with bursts of dry blues guitar successfully mesmerises the listener into a state of kinaesthesia.
The elephant is a recurring image in the works of Salvador Dali. In ‘Eden,’ Khan similarly establishes the motif of ‘the eye’ as a subliminal undercurrent. After Khan introduces us to the track with the line “palms to the sky/on a religious high,” he evokes the “all-seeking eye.” This transition in the music video cuts to a woman’s eye being razored, which then fades into a brief shot of a thinly veiled moon. This is all done in perfect sync to the music and is reminiscent of Man Ray’s most surreal photograms.
The music and imagery of Ben Khan collides in spectacular fashion, emerging as one of the most exciting artists today. Whether he has deliberately eluded the eye of the public or not, Ben Khan’s illusory behaviour has only added to his brilliant music. His debut is slated/rumoured for release on the 5th of May via his own record label Blessed Vice.