Boomkat Product Review:
A.R. Kane’s 1992 dream-pop retrospective scoops up armfuls of divine songs from their first two albums and early singles, collected as their US showcase for David Byrne’s Luaka Bop.
Notably the first band to coin the term “dream pop” in the wake of template setting classics by Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil, the duo of Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala’s A.R. Kane gave the sound an urbane psychedelia that smudged and swooned in the gaps between indie shoegaze jangle, free jazz and acid house with their sampledelic cut-up tekkerz, as found on 4AD and Rough Trade. Their 16-track ‘Americana’ collection arrived in 1992 to charm the US market on Luaka Bop, the legendary exploratory label venture of David Byrne, who clearly heard something of Talking Heads’ grooving pop suss and his passions for avant Afro-American styles swirled up in A.R. Kane’s music, which had also seeped into the wider cultural subconscious via their ‘80s uber-classic as M|A|R|R|S; ‘Pump Up The Volume’ with members of Colourbox.
Wrapping up songs from their seminal debut ’69’ (1988), plus its follow-up ‘i’ (1989), and cherry-picked B-sides, the ‘Americana’ set is a joyful celebration of the Black Atlantic conversation between US, UK and African musics, with classic cuts such as ‘A Love From Outer Space’ and ’Snow Joke’ emphasising the acid house swagger as much as the swirling textures of shoegaze in a way that became their enduring calling card. Alongside their more dubwise, studio-as-instrument application and deftly played politics on gems such as ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’, and the shimmering chamber music sashay of ‘The Madonna Is With Child’, the very Cocteau-like ’Sperm Whale Trip Is Over’, their petal-picking ‘60s psych plucks on ‘Green Hazed Days’, and the proto-emo paean ‘Up’; the set surely highlights some of their best moments, and should encourage any new ears to investigate further, especially fans along the axis from Prince to Mark Hollis, New Order and Cocteau Twins to FKA Twigs and Mica Levi.