Belgian studio wizard Praga Khan produced several of the rave world's biggest hits, under his own name as well as in conjunction with band projects (Lords of Acid, Digital Orgasm, Channel X) masterminded by the MNO production team composed of Khan, producer Oliver Adams, and vocalist Jade 4U. Born Maurice Engelen, Khan worked as a DJ in Belgium's growing acid/trance/newbeat scene of the late '80s and held court at Brussels' seminal Happy House club. He began recording as well in 1988 with a project named Shakti, a fusion of house and Indian music featuring the vocals of Nikkie Van Lierop (aka Jade 4U). The pair recorded two-dozen singles from 1988 to 1991, under aliases including Praga Khan, Lords of Acid, Jade 4U, Major Problem, and Dirty Harry.
After meeting producer Oliver Adams in 1991, Khan and Jade 4U formed a production collective known as MNO -- short for Maurice/Nikki/Oliver -- and recorded a series of British pop hits that year. Aimed between the uplifting spirit of house music and the growing darkside of rave and trance excess, the singles "Running Out of Time" and "Startouchers" (as Digital Orgasm), "Groove to Move" (as Channel X), and "Injected with a Poison" and "Rave Alert" (as Praga Khan Featuring Jade 4U) all made the British charts during 1991-1992. Despite its controversial drug connotations, "Injected with a Poison" reached the number 16 spot (and hit number one in Japan). The trio's Lords of Acid project began conquering dancefloors as well, with the 1991 single "Take Control" and the Lust LP one year later.
While Lords of Acid gradually turned into an industrial dance group (with plenty of guitars and cartoonish sexual songwriting), the MNO team continued to diversify, beginning in 1992 with a major-label U.S. album contract for Lords of Acid and Digital Orgasm -- both courtesy of Rick Rubin's American Recordings. While the resulting LPs (DO It and Lords of Acid's Voodoo-U) weren't quite the commercial juggernaut Rubin hoped for, both increased the visibility of Belgian trance (and European dance music as a whole) in America, especially with alternative and college radio audiences. Lords of Acid even undertook a stateside tour and attempted to cross over with the popular industrial crowds. The Japanese label Avex contracted Channel X to release an album; the title track of 1994's Take It to the Top became their second number one single in Japan.
During a small lull in the recordings of the several MNO-based acts, Khan released a full-length, Conquers Your Love, under his own name. He also scored music for several feature films, including Basic Instinct, Sliver, Strange Days, and Virtuosity. He also did remix work for Alice in Chains, White Zombie, and Jean-Michel Jarre. Lords of Acid returned in 1997 with Our Little Secret, and Khan released his second "solo" album, Pragamatic, in 1998. Additional solo albums appeared in 1999 (Twentyfirstcenturyskin) and 2000 (Mutant Funk). ~ John Bush