A.R. Kane

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A.R. Kane
AR Kane 1987.jpg
A.R. Kane perform in France, 1987. Rudy Tambala (left) and Alex Ayuli.
Background information
Origin East London, England
Genres Dream pop, experimental rock, alternative dance
Years active 1986–1994
Labels Rough Trade, 4AD, One Little Indian, Luaka Bop/Sire
Associated acts MARRS, Sufi, MusicOne, Alex!
Website http://arkane.co.uk
Past members Alex Ayuli
Rudy Tambala

A.R. Kane (sometimes AR Kane or A.R.Kane) were a British musical duo formed in 1986 by Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala. In the late 1980s, they pioneered an amorphous style that would become known as dream pop.[1][2] Despite scoring a surprise worldwide dance hit with 1987's "Pump Up the Volume" as part of the one-off collaborative project MARRS, the group achieved fairly limited commercial success, though they have been characterized by critics as among the most innovative groups of their era.[3][4][5]

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Ayuli is of Nigerian descent, while Tambala was born to a Malawian father and English mother. The two first met as school children in an East London primary school. Both were involved in formative and culturally diverse music communities as adolescents.[6] In 1983, Ayuli became an advertising copywriter, one of few black creatives working in the London ad business. The roots of A.R. Kane lay in a joke: at a party in 1986, Tambala was asked how he and Ayuli knew each other; he lied that the two played together in a band, going on to describe their sound as "a bit Velvet Underground, a bit Cocteau Twins, a bit Miles Davis, a bit Joni Mitchell." A week later, the two were contacted to record a demo on the strength of Tambala's fabrication.[7]

1986–1994: Recordings[edit]

In 1986, A.R. Kane released their debut single "When You're Sad" on One Little Indian. The duo were initially grouped with other "noise pop" acts, and were hailed in the press as "the black Jesus and Mary Chain", despite claiming to have never heard the work of that band.[8] The next year the group signed to 4AD to release the follow-up 1987 EP Lollita, which was produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins and saw the duo melding dub production, guitar feedback, free jazz and studio experimentation.[9][8] While at 4AD, label chief Ivo Watts-Russell suggested that Ayuli and Tambala team with roster mates Colourbox, champion mixer Chris "C.J." Mackintosh, and London DJ Dave Dorrell to record a one-off single. Dubbing the collaboration M/A/R/R/S, the resulting single, "Pump Up the Volume" was a breakthrough effort heralding sampling's gradual absorption from hip-hop into dance music and ultimately the pop mainstream, reaching number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in September 1987.[8]

A.R. Kane followed with their highly-anticipated debut album, 69 (1988), which topped the independent charts and received rave critical reviews from the UK music press.[10] Writing for Melody Maker, critic Simon Reynolds described 69 as "the outstanding record of '88."[11] A.R Kane's next release was 1989's Love-Sick EP, followed later that year by their second studio album, "i", in which they engaged more overtly with pop, dance and electronic styles. The duo, dismissive of the wildly disparate attempts by journalists to categorize their unique sound, eventually began referring to their music as "dreampop"; the term was widely adopted by music critics thereafter.[12] Like its predecessor, "i" was released to moderate sales figures.[13] Also in 1989, Rough Trade released the Pop EP.

In the early 1990s, the band went on hiatus. During this time, Ayuli and Tambala founded the label H.ark and released EPs by acts such as Papa Sprain and Butterfly Child.[14] Rough Trade went bankrupt in 1991. In 1992, David Byrne's record label, Luaka Bop, released a 15-song US retrospective of the band's work, titled Americana. The duo ended their hiatus thereafter to record a follow-up album, New Clear Child (1994), and then dissolved following its release.

1994–present: Post-breakup[edit]

Since the dissolution of A.R. Kane, Tambala has made ambient- and dub-based music with his sister Maggie under the alias Sufi[15] and released the 1995 album Life's Rising on Caroline Records. Tambala serves as head of new media for Ministry of Sound, and previously worked for Virgin Digital in non-musical roles. He currently records as MusicOne.[16] Ayuli was known to be a museum curator in the US. He put out releases under the name Alex!.[17] In 2006, Ayuli contributed vocals to two tracks ("Soulsong" and "Passage") on the album Primario by the Static Discos artist Fax, and also appeared on Fax's album Zig Zag.[18] Ayuli appeared in Beautiful Noise, a documentary on the shoegazing music scene of the 1990s[19]

A.R. Kane's first two albums were reissued in the US by One Little Indian in 2004, and New Clear Child was reissued by 3rd Stone in 2000. Complete Singles Collection, a compilation of the group's EPs and singles, was released in 2012.

In 2015, it was announced by Tambala that a quasi-reformation of A.R. Kane, bringing together new and old collaborators, would be taking place that year under the name #A.R.Kane and without the involvement of Ayuli.[20]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Critic Jason Ankeny described A.R. Kane as "arguably the most criminally under-recognized band of their era" and an important progenitor of such musical developments as shoegaze, trip hop, acid house and post-rock.[21] The Guardian has called their work "some of the 80s' most extraordinary music" and noted their influence on subsequent artists such as My Bloody Valentine.[22] Critic Simon Reynolds tentatively referred to A.R. Kane as "the great lost group of the 80s," while pointing out that the group in fact enjoyed fervent support in certain circles of the press and surrounding music scenes during the period.[23]

A.R. Kane have been recognized for breaking stereotypes about the styles accessible to black musicians at a time when most popular black artists were relegated to soul, reggae and hip hop.[24][25] Pitchfork wrote that, "embracing dub, soul and paisley pop, A.R. Kane pushed boundaries most of their contemporaries completely ignored."[26] Bands such as Seefeel, Slowdive, Long Fin Killie, Dubstar, the Veldt and Apollo Heights have cited A.R. Kane as an influence.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

EPs[edit]

  • Lollita 12" EP (July 1987, 4AD)
  • Up Home! 12" EP (April 1988, Rough Trade)
  • Love-Sick 12"/7" EP (October 1988, Rough Trade)
  • rem"i"xes CD/12" EP (1990, Rough Trade Deutschland)
  • A Love from Outer Space CD/12" EP (1992, Luaka Bop/Sire)

Singles[edit]

  • "When You're Sad" 12" single (August 1986, One Little Indian)
  • "Baby Milk Snatcher" 7" single (June 1988, Rough Trade)
  • "Listen Up!" 12" single (October 1988, Rough Trade)
  • "Pop" CD/12"/7" single (July 1989, Rough Trade)
  • "Crack Up" 12" single (1990, Rough Trade France/Virgin)
  • "Sea Like a Child" CD single (1994, 3rd Stone)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Americana CD/LP (1992, Luaka Bop/Sire)
  • Complete Singles Collection 2CD (2012, One Little Indian)

References[edit]

External links[edit]