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!, Fax
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. They are noted for pioneering a genre known as dream pop during the late 1980s, integrating guitar feedback, studio experimentation, and elements of house, jazz, and dub music into an amorphous whole.[1][2] Despite fairly limited commercial success—the group scored a surprise worldwide dance hit with 1987's "Pump Up the Volume" as part of the one-off collaboration MARRS—they have been characterized as among the most innovative groups of their era.[3][4][5]


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]


In 1986, A.R. Kane released their debut single "When You're Sad" on One Little Indian. This was followed in 1987 by the group's signing to 4AD, a one-off collaboration with Colourbox as MARRS, on the surprise worldwide hit dance single "Pump Up the Volume," and the release of the duo's Lollita EP, produced by Robin Guthrie of 4AD labelmates Cocteau Twins.[8] Both releases were met with rave reviews.[9] The next year saw the group release a string of EPs and a debut album, 69 (released on Rough Trade), to positive acclaim.[10] 69 topped the independent charts in 1988. A.R. Kane followed in 1989 with 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 music, eventually began referring to their sound as "dreampop"; the term was widely adopted by music critics thereafter.[11] Like its predecessor, "i" was released to moderate sales figures.[12] Following the release of "i", the band went on hiatus.

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. 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.


Since the dissolution of A.R. Kane, Tambala has made ambient- and dub-based music with his sister Maggie under the alias Sufi[13] 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.[14] Ayuli was known to be a museum curator in the US. He put out releases under the name Alex!.[15] 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.[16] Ayuli appeared in Beautiful Noise, a documentary on the shoegazing music scene of the 1990s[17]

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.[18]

Critical acclaim 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.[19] 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.[20] Pitchfork wrote that, "embracing dub, soul and paisley pop, A.R. Kane pushed boundaries most of their contemporaries completely ignored."[21] They 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.[22][23] 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.[24]

Bands such as Seefeel, Slowdive, Long Fin Killie, Dubstar, the Veldt and Apollo Heights have cited A.R. Kane as an influence.


Studio albums[edit]


  • Lollita 12" EP (1987, 4AD)
  • Up Home! 12" EP (1988, Rough Trade)
  • Love-Sick 12"/7" EP (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)


  • "When You're Sad" 12" single (1986, One Little Indian)
  • "Baby Milk Snatcher" 7" single (1988, Rough Trade)
  • "Listen Up!" 12" single (1988, Rough Trade)
  • "Pop" CD/12"/7" single (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)


External links[edit]