Boomkat Product Review:
A seminal, early highlight of shoegaze that helped birth the idea of “dream pop”, also serving as a blueprint of sorts for Dean Blunt's world of sound, A.R. Kane’s debut album is among the most under-sung, yet foundational, records of its time.
A.R. Kane were no doubt an anomaly in their field - far as we know, the only Black band of musicians operating in British indie-pop-rock music - which only makes their dare-to-be-different style even more exceptional, in hindsight. They would famously go on to create a major touchstone of acid house and dance-pop with their über-classic ‘Pump Up The Volume’ as M/A/R/R/S, but before that they released debut album ’SIxty Nine’, laying out a template for psychedelic, grooving pop music that remains practically peerless in its field, with echoes of its sound heard everywhere from Micachu & The Shapes to Dean Blunt in the current day.
After 32 years ’Sixty Nine’ remains a most beautiful sore thumbs-up, with tenderly fragile yet powerful vocals set to a mix of psychedelia, dub, jazz-funk, free jazz spirits and keeling amounts of guitar feedback, in a style that the band’s Alex Ayuli would describe as “dream-pop” - a term which has stuck and blossomed ever since. Mercifully, “dream-pop” provides a catchy phrase for their hard-to-place sound for clumsy writers like we, and is practically the only way to encompass their sound here; taking in the range of their jangling sorta Afrobeat/indie hybrid styles in ‘Crazy Blue’, thru to swooning dub-rock-pop of ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’, the charred guitar feedback scapes of ’Sulliday’, and the thizz of their spine-tracing vox, guitar, and hi-hats in ‘Spermwhale Trip’, alongside the chamber-like oddity of ‘The Madonna Is With Child.’ And considering that it was issued in a pivotal year for new music, it’s always worth listening to Simon Reynolds’ take, who sums up ’69’ very neatly in his review for Melody Maker as “the outstanding record of ’88.”
Seriously there’s nowt quite like this album. A 100% must check if you don’t already know.