Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Electro-Degenerate

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 1999 at 12:00 AM

German-born, New York-based producer Can Oral has dabbled in as many electronic genres as he’s burned through monikers. Electro, ambient, acid, trip hop and more have all run through his varied discography – all neatly divided by different names on various label imprints and through his own Temple Records. But for now, he seems to have decided to combine his skill and his work with various genres and stick with just being Khan.

His new record, 1-900-GET-KHAN, is an atmospheric late-night stroll through the pre-Disney seedier version of New York: a mythical underworld of street thugs, hustlers and petty crime. It’s an album of laid-back beats and street life soundtracks. Khan seems well aquatinted with his subject matter and equally adept at capturing the feeling in sound that conjures up the sights and sounds you find lingering on the corner a little too long, up to no good with nowhere to go. A vision of the city after all the decent folks have taken cover indoors.

Most of the tracks are big on creating a mood of noir trip hop walking down darkened alleys and dirty boulevards – from the crime jazz of "Booker to Hooker" to the quickened pace of "Salty Waltz," a song that feels like those moments when nerves have to keep it together not to just run away. "Jet Lounge Blues" is a lapdance in a red-light strip joint. Khan can put you anywhere he wants you to go almost effortlessly.

He also does well on a couple of collaborations with singer Julee Cruise, "Body Dump" and "Nowhere"; her after-hours-club, femme fatale act slips right in the mix and fits like a black leather glove. He also has a couple of strategically placed tracks, such as the restless "Foxy Mama," to make sure it’s not all mood and no movement. He finishes it all off with "The 12th Commandment," a string piece built around a phone sex/call girl fantasy. (Coincidentally, the album’s title is a working phone sex line itself, for which the album artwork serves as an advertisement.)

1-900-GET-KHAN is pure sleaze. Musical bump and grind made as sultry and as tempting as the real thing. Feeling dirty was never so easy on the ears.

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