Bristol's Kahn isn't one to follow the cutting edge of genre trends, as his output often has more in common with the last couple of decades than the last couple of years. But though he might not be an out-and-out innovator, Kahn is undoubtedly capable of polish and timelessness—two traits that are markedly present on "Dread" b/w "Late Night Blues."
If it can be said without any backhandedness, Kahn can occasionally sound as though he's stuck in a timewarp. "Dread" is cold, classic dubstep, replete with a guttural vocal sample of late reggae stalwart Ranking Toyan. The track's sparse mix of visceral sub-bass, space echo, and springy reverb place this production squarely in the '00s, albeit without a hint of overt nostalgia or irony. Though "Dread" is new material, it comes across as a tried-and-true, battle-worn tune, the sort of track that would have debuted one sweaty night at DMZ some years ago.
"Late Night Blues" delivers similarly accented sounds; Rider Shafique (of Black Canvas) is cautions us with the mantra "don't test"; it's almost a message from Kahn himself to let us know that he's patently and unabashedly aware of the sound he's emulating here. The long, decaying ride cymbals at the start of the track call to mind Kode9 and The Spaceape, while a more syncopated section underscored by percussive sub-bass reaffirms that this is material belonging to Deep Medi—home to Goth-Trad, Kromestar, Pinch, et al.
Making tunes that harken to a specific sound, especially an established one that's become sacrosanct to many, can be a risky endeavor. It's easy to get stuck in a nostalgic mode or become too referential and lose originality. Kahn avoids those pitfalls here with some masterful strokes, making something that belongs to another time but still exudes a sincere sense of novelty. If he continues to approach all of his productions with this unaffected and genuine attitude, it's quite possible that we'll be hearing great things from Kahn for a long time to come.