By Colin Gallant
CALGARY — Less than a year after he released the dazzling Shaani Cage EP Danyaal with his brother and band mate Kaleem, Aleem Khan is unleashing a collection of indie pop oddities under his own name.
For about the last four months, the multi-instrumentalist has been quietly toiling over the self-titled album’s nine tracks with engineer Jonathan Reynolds. While not set in stone, Khan expects to have the record out by September.
Though Shaani Cage have worked with the Close to Modern imprint, Khan has taken his independence with this project all the way by choosing to self-release the record through Bandcamp. He’s going ahead with his own imprint Brain Banana, named after an incident on The Simpsons where the locals accidentally wind up stoned out of their minds.
At the time of our conversation, Khan is still wrapping recording sessions and isn’t quite ready to reveal all the tricks up his sleeve just yet. He does however preview a few just-about-done cuts that find him yelping wildly over sharp blues chords in one song, going choral in another and even serenely improvising on the piano in a third. While he admits, “it’s a mixture of all things I love and am exploring right now,” he does pin down one overarching sonic influence.
“My favourite in music would have to be, I would say, is music coming out of the late ‘60s and ‘70s,” he explains.
“There definitely was a certain aesthetic associated with drumming styles, with guitar playing, even bass lines.”
Genre-wise, Khan says he channels classic styles like blues and rock ‘n’ roll while also incorporating ambient and post-rock flavours. Left turns are a constant for Khan. His one Bandcamp release this year, the dreamy non-album cut “Dark Brown,” differs wildly from the chaotic live sets he did during Sled Island—itself a departure from the finished products to be found on the record.
“My philosophy, which shows sometimes… I really just wanted to do different versions of the songs I’d recorded: entirely different versions that were more stripped back, a little bit more experimental,” he says. “I didn’t know what I was getting into, which is kind of what I like.”
What’s in store at his next live performance is something of a secret, but remains faithful to methodology described above.
“I do things kind of like impulsively, during [sets]… It could be really anything.”
Aleem Khan will be very busy on September 12th. In addition to performing solo at Commonwealth, his band Shaani Cage performs at both at The Palomino and as part of Circle the Wagons at Pumphouse Park.AB, Alberta, Aleem Khan, Circle the Wagons, Commonwealth, Palomino, Pumphouse Park, Shaani Cage