Khan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Khan, born Can Oral (for real), has by his own admission lived a "hedonistic, fucked-up, self-centered lifestyle" that's taken him from Germany to New York to Mexico and produced a discography that's almost as well traveled as he is. In the last 20 years, he's made recordings that range from lo-fi noise to more highbrow electronic collaborations with Jimi Tenor, his real-life brother Jammin' Unit, and Jorg Burger, among other weirdos, and worked under a telephone book's worth of pseudonyms--4E, H.E.A.D., Global Electronic Network, Bizz OD, Gizz TV, Radiowaves. As a performer he's been known to strip while DJing, operated his own phone-sex line in conjunction with the 1999 release of 1-900-GET-KHAN (Matador), and sometimes shows up shirtless in airbrushed jeans. He still hasn't pledged allegiance to any style: he sings like a sleazy boozer over hip-hop, ambient, electro, garage rock, and industrial tracks, and until a couple years ago he'd never played the same song twice. Despite his obviously feverish imagination, however, his latest album, No Comprendo (also on Matador)--featuring collaborations with Jon Spencer, Francoise Cactus of Stereo Total, Julee Cruise, Diamanda Galas, and Hanin Elias of Atari Teenage Riot--is kind of a stinker. He crafted songs specifically for the vocalists, then let them have their way with the lyrics, the effect being that every track sounds like an electronicized parody of the artist's own work. The biggest bummer is the bog-boogie drone of "Mercy Mama," with X-rated R & B cult figure Andre Williams mumbling his appreciation for a lady's gassy ass. Khan's touring with guitarist Kid Congo Powers, formerly of the Gun Club, the Cramps, and the Bad Seeds (among others) and currently of the Knoxville Girls. At a show in Manhattan in October, the duo riled up the crowd with electro beats, trashy guitar licks, and even trashier dance moves. Friday, April 26, 10:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bela Borsodi.

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