A. R. Kane: 69 (1988)


The underground ’90s sound, one decade early.

Purchase this album: Amazon

THE SCENE: In 1987 the London duo of Alex Ayuli and Rudi Tambala were in a quandary. Under the name A. R. Kane they’d released an EP called Lolita, which garnered some critical praise. But they also were part of a collaboration called M/A/R/R/S which released the international dance hit “Pump Up The Volume”, although their handiwork was invisible to the buying public. Nevertheless they returned in 1988 with their watershed dream pop album 69.

Drenched in caverns of echoes, 69 eerily predicts trip-hop and ambient dub music, years before those phrases were ever conjured. It’s a wet sounding album, an empty ghost ship washed up on the beach, its crew long since gone completely mad.

“Crazy Blue” actually starts with incoherent babbling, as heavily echoed guitars clang like incoming tankers fighting for pier space. The moaning vocals remain in the background, hiding behind each other in the tonal fog.

The melancholy dance continues with “Suicide Kiss”. Its dub-like bass pulsates as if it’s drilling toward the earth’s core. Guitars sizzle like sparks off a welding torch.

The aptly named “Dizzy” is a tune straight out of the asylum. Its creepy cello adds a disturbing formality to the din of screaming background vocals. You can feel the too bright hospital lights and hear the cries of people who obviously made their instruments out of bedpans and restraints.

“Spermwhale Trip Over” sounds like surf rock created by a band who’d never seen the ocean. The moist undulating waves of droning feedback nearly submerge the lysergically-enhanced lyrics:

here in my LSdream
things are always what they seem
here in my LSdream, in my LSdreaming

and all the shifting shapes
all changing to grapes
never making mistakes
in my LSdream

In “The Sun Falls into The Sea” A. R. Kane reduces their attack to hundreds of tiny ringing bells while voices hauntingly glide and wail, free from the shackles of rhythm.

THE FALLOUT: Influential as was on the underground dance scene, 69 was not a hit record. A. R. Kane released several more gems before calling it quits in 1994.

69 is available from Amazon and you can sample tracks here. Dream pop shoegazes on.

See you next Wednesday.

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