Boomkat Product Review:
The early genius of dreampop pioneers A.R. Kane (aka half of M|A|R|R|S) is summed up in a collected trifecta of 1988-89 Rough Trade LPs and EP that helped pave the way for everyone from Dean Blunt, Seefeel and Slowdive to Coby Sey and LA Timpa.
‘A.R. Kive Box Set’ is abundant assurance of Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala’s legacy as A.R. Kane, who famously minted the “dreampop” genre with three releases at the tail end of the ‘80s, after cutting sampledelic dance classic ‘Pump Up The Volume’ as M|A|R|R|S with Colourbox in 1987. Hustling, in their entirety, the albums ’69’ (1988) and ‘“i”’ (1989), plus the EP ‘Up Home!’ (1988), the ‘A.R. Kive’ is a treasure trove for avant pop fiends who can join the dots, as they did, between post-punk funk, dub, jazz-funk, and shoegaze bands such as MBV or Jesus and Mary Chain, to the swelling promise of the late ‘80s dance phenomenon, and beyond. While a resolutely cult act with those in the know, it never fails to surprise us how much they’re overlooked in the pop history books, but this compilation should go some way to rectifying that matter, seeding their ohrwurms in new and old lugs alike.
Hugely notable as artists of Afro-British descent working in styles dominated by bands of often anglo-celtic background, Nigerian-British musician Alex Ayuli and his Malawian-English spar Rudy Tambala brought the psychedelic richness of dub and groove of jazz-funk to prevailing ‘80s rock paradigms with a singular, joyful flourish unprecedented at the time. Directly inspired by a mid-‘80s Cocteau Twins performance on Channel 4, they would initially blag a record deal after lying that they were in a duo inspired by The VU, Cocteaus, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, that led to cutting a demo with a drum machine, guitar and dual tape players, that consequentially resulted in Robin Guthrie producing their 1987 single ‘Lollita’, and them ultimately realising the golden trio of records documented here.
In chronological order; the ‘Up Home!’ EP establishes a ravishing blend of noise-pop, dub and politics, variously cocking a snook at M*ggie Thatcher with ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’, and endemic british racism in ‘W.O.G.S’, beside the shoegaze club ace ‘One Way Mirror’, before really defining, expanding their vision on a pair of legendary LPs. 1988’s ’Sixty Nine’ found them in flux between grooving urges and resounding dub noise, as characterised in the Antenna-gone-rogue jangle of ‘Crazy Blue’, the lip-smacking psychedelia of ‘Spermwhale Trip Over’, and etheric peal to ‘The Madonna With Child’, before 1989’s ‘“i”’ became beloved by Balearic, rock, and pop types alike for its ebullient anthem ‘A Love From Outer Space’, thru the trip hop prototype ‘In a Circle’ and balmy steppers dub jangle of ‘Catch My Drift’ via a handful of wicked, abstract palate cleansers and teasers.
Start your obsession right here.