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  • Filed under: Review
  • 07/04/2012

Kahn "Angeles"

Over the 18 months that have passed since his debut release, Bristol-based producer Kahn has proved a difficult presence to pin down. That debut—the Punch Drunk-released "Like We Used To"—was a note-perfect exercise in clean, hook-laden garage, a track that was energetic and catchy to the point of sounding like some long-lost UK garage edit of a turn-of-the-millenium R&B classic. The tunes that followed however, saw Kahn stepping back from garage to plunge headlong into mood-soaked tones of early dubstep; "Way Mi Defend" was pure 2-step dubplate classicism, while the Eastern samples of "Tehran" brought to mind vintage Pinch. Add to that his varied collaborations with fellow Bristol resident and Sureskank boss Neek—the bare-bones grime of "Percy" and the all-out dub revivalism of the pair's work as Gorgon Sound—plus his association with the ambient-leaning Young Echo collective, and you start to get the (somewhat confused) picture.

Miraculously, where lesser producers would lose themselves amidst all this genre hopping and homage paying, Kahn has managed to single himself out as one of the UK's most promising new talents. He's maintained a singular identity without allowing himself the luxury of returning to the same ideas twice—until now, at least. Granted, Kahn already returned to garage in 2012, albeit in the more downbeat manner of his two-part "Margeaux" release, but "Angeles" is effectively a sister piece to his debut single. The track repeats every trick that made "Like We Used To" so infectious; there's the unashamedly nostalgic 2-step shuffle underpinned by dark, brooding synths, the broken and repitched joyous vocal, and the melodic, rhythmic mid-range. Thankfully, the combination is equally as potent the second time around, once again resulting in a tune that packs all the emotive punch of modern R&B into a package dense with subtlety and complexity.

The remix on the reverse, from fellow Punch Drunk alumnus Superisk, doesn't deviate too far from the original source material. It keeps much of the vocal and the general feel of the beat intact while allowing some more cinematic synth parts to unfurl, going slightly deeper than the a-side without losing its immediacy. It's a fitting companion that doesn't outshine the original, but isn't left in its wake either.

Whether this repeat trick signifies Kahn settling on a sound or not remains to be seen, but as long as his genre experiments continue to generate such consistently laudable results, there's no need to complain.

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