Published Jul 12, 2016Calgary-based artist Aleem Khan showcased some serious chops with last year's self-titled effort, and continued to impress with a killer performance at Sled Island last month. With the release of his sophomore album Urbana Champaign, however, one thing is abundantly clear — his musical success is absolutely no fluke. Today, Exclaim! is happy to premiere the release in full.
Speaking with Exclaim!, Khan explains that the release is something of a concept album. "Urbana Champaign is the story of a character exploring race, culture, and identity as well as pondering the question of what life would've been like had they not moved to Calgary, Alberta from Urbana, Illinois as a child," he says.
Further, the release is a major musical evolution for Khan. While his self-titled effort focused on guitar-based compositions, he abandoned the instrument almost entirely for this new album.
"On this record, I sought to use guitar as less of a focal point as I've done in the past and more as a texture," he says. "I was inspired by what Brian Wilson had to say in interviews about recording similar lines on guitar and piano lines to create a whole new instrument that didn't sound like either.... Composing with piano — which isn't my 'main instrument' — as opposed to composing with guitar allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the unfamiliar, bringing out things I didn't know existed up until this point."
Khan tells Exclaim! that he's already working on his third solo release, which will be a visual album. Before then, Urbana Champaign will arrive on July 15 via Slow Release. You can enjoy the record in full below.