Kahn Bust Off the Big Skeng at Deep Space

deepspace-april-21-2014

It takes a long, long time for a club night to gain people’s trust and get to the level where it can pull in a crowd week in, week out, rain or shine, for over ten years. But that is exactly what François K (read our extensive interview with him here) has done with his night Deep Space at Cielo in New York, which is dedicated to all things bass and dub.

Deep Space has earned that wonderful position where the crowd doesn’t come because of a big name DJ (although recent guests Mala and Scuba fall into that category) but instead arrive with an open mind and an understanding that Francois K will have booked someone they will enjoy. It is these kind of nights—nights like Metalheadz Sunday sessions at Blue Note, FWD>> at Matter, Sub and Dubloaded in Bristol, or more recently something like Boxed in London—that nurture scenes and provide formative experiences for the electronic music innovators of the future. It is in that kind of environment that Kahn played on Monday, April 21 at Cielo.

Kahn is a DJ from the musical hotbed that is Bristol, UK, and a man of many talents excelling his hand to dubstep, grime, reggae, and experimental beat-making on his own, as Gorgon Sound, as part of the Young Echo collective. Oh, and he runs a vinyl only label with Neek called Bandulu Records.

For me, his best releases have been grime and dubstep ones, where Kahn provides a distinctly traditional take on the genres, making the influence of Jamaican soundsystem culture clear, and harnessing the gritty, guttural, tribal energy of early dubstep. With big releases in 2012 and 2013 like the Badman City EP on Black Box and “Dread / Late Night Blues” on Deep Medi, Kahn’s talents are being ever more widely appreciated, and rightly so.

It was the grime side of Kahn’s production that I was most excited to see, but, as should be expected from anyone playing a two hour set, he took his time before unleashing the devastating energy of instant rewind tunes like “Percy” or “Badman City” with Flowdan. Drawing out the connections between dub reggae and dubstep, the first hour of Kahn’s set would have fit in perfectly alongside Mala’s set at Deep Space earlier this year.

Finally, Kahn’s “yess iyahh” tag crept into the mix, and Deep Space proceeded to get smashed. He dropped his own collaborations with Flow Dan and Riko, remixes of “Pulse X” and “Kung Fu,” the brilliant “Percy” and bangers from JME and Bok Bok, with the highlight being an extremely special dubplate of The Bug’s “Skeng.”

Kahn doesn’t need a big stage setup or any shiny lasers to do his thing—far from it. All he needs is his box of records and a heavy duty soundsystem to make clear: this is one soundboy you do not want to test.