Kahn, Illy/Tehran

[Punch Drunk]

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Bristol continues to dominate the UK bass music sphere, with producer after producer coming out of the city with exciting new interpretations. One of the latest is Kahn, who burst on the scene with “Like We Used To,” one of the better tracks of the early part of the year and a long favorite of mine. How does the young Sureskank collective producer follow this up? By releasing a single just as good, but with a curiously similar dichotomy between A-side and B-side. “Helter Skelter” was a fairly standard track with none of the gleam brought by “Like We Used To.” “Illy” has much the same relationship with “Tehran” on Kahn’s new single for Punch Drunk Records. Similarly front-loaded with a gloriously hypnotic rollercoaster of bass music, “Illy” is infused with hints of garage, purple, R&B, and grime, along with large helpings of vocoder and drum programming. It’s a rather massive helping of grime, in fact, with skittering hi-hats and a syncopated synth line that gives the song a relentless immediacy. Kahn uses vocoder to great effect here, analogous to the sad wistfulness that Com Truise employs on Galactic Melt. The drums pack a resounding punch and break for wonderful moments of synthesizer arpeggios.

However, just like that earlier 12″, the flipside “Tehran” is curiously bereft of that intoxicating and dynamic mix, presenting a much more static track that has a winding Eastern feel in keeping with its title. The instrumentation and rhythm are straight out of the rajaz meter of caravan songs, which is a strange departure from the hyper gloss of “Illy” and comes across as less compelling. Part of the problem is that the track lacks progression (a problem of “Helter Skelter” as well) and seems content to drift along on the same basic loop. The pressure to produce fantastic tracks is high among artists these days, and the desire to break the mold is strong. While Kahn is certainly capable of reaching wonderful heights on certain tracks, I would love to see that capability more fully harnessed. If “Illy” is any indication, he’s moving in the right forward direction, but needs to maintain the intensity on his B-sides. The day he releases a full one-two punch is the day he’ll truly be a force to reckon with.

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