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A.R. Kane

+ {Alex!} + {InRain}

Small ideas in music often lead to much larger unintended consequences, but if one asks singer Alex Ayuli and musician Rudi Tambala of A.R. KANE, they’ll say their only mission was to experiment with dream-pop noise, music that gently pushed the confines of stereotypical early 80s “black” music in Britain to the very edge; that is: reggae, R&B and hip hop.
Formed 1986 in east London, the pair began releasing 12” singles on taste-maker labels One Little Indian and 4 a.d.; respectively `When You’re Sad’ and `Lollita’. Through their association with fellow Ivo Watts-Russell-endorsed label mates, COLOURBOX, the pair hit pay-dirt as members of techno-dub ensemble, M/A/R/R/S; the eventual Grammy-nominated UK chart-topper, `Pump Up The Volume’, also hit No.13 in the States.
Described in the music press as a unique fusion of COCTEAU TWINS meeting MILES DAVIS and ROBERT WYATT, their aforementioned ROBIN GUTHRIE-produced follow-up, `Lollita’ (with Russ Smith added on bass), paved the way for a move to Rough Trade Records.
Hard to pigeonhole yet seminal nevertheless, their avant-rock-styled full-length debut set, 69 (1988) {*8}, gave the Brits an opportunity to label them as the “black” JESUS & MARY CHAIN. Closer in many respects to PiL in bed with The DURUTTI COLUMN, the duo’s fantasy-league trips to the moon and back resulted in excellent ethereal pieces, `Crazy Blue’, `Baby Milk Catcher’, `Suicide Kiss’ and `Sperm Whale Trip Over’.
A.R. KANE’s sprawling 26-track follow-up double-set, “i” (1989) {*9}, was characterized by a slicker, pop-driven sound which yielded their best known track, `A Love From Outer Space’; plaudits from the likes of Melody Maker were forthcoming. Danceable kinetics with their usual arty twists, one could hear a little acid-house in their drone-like hypnotic pop; shoegazing, anybody?! While one had a vast choice of ambitious miasma to trawl through, `Crack Up’, `Snow Joke’ and `Miles Apart’, were easily the most accessible and single-friendly; the choice of the aptly-titled, `Pop’, was somewhat misguided on reflection. When Rough Trade subsequently drew to a close in ‘91, a saviour was found through DAVID BYRNE, whose Sire-sanctioned imprint, Luaka Bop, managed to deliver a compilation (`Americana’). In the meantime, Rudi took time to augment vocalist Alison Shaw on their INRAIN enterprise, although only one Rough Trade Singles Club 45, `Grow’, was issued.
After a short hiatus, NEW CLEAR CHILD (1994) {*5} surfaced (ged it “Nu Clear Child”), but this effort received a less than enthusiastic reaction by the critics and public at large. Although scatty and funk-driven in places, and verging as close to dance-pop without getting under the mirror-ball, `Sea Like A Child’, `Honey Be (For Stella)’ and `Pearl’, were arguably the best on board.
Both Ayuli and Tambala continued to make music under various monikers, while pursuing engagements from outside the industry. ALEX! (as he was duly billed) had a handful of self-financed, US-only releases at the turn of the millennium, worth looking out for if one can find them – and if only for curiosity – was the mini-set, SOUL SURGING (1999) {*4} and the album, ALIEN TECHNOLOGY (2001) {*5}. Other artists such as SLOWDIVE and DUBSTAR have cited A.R. KANE as a major influence.
© MC Strong 1999-2003/GID // rev-up CG/MCS Jun2013

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