By Scott Creney
Like My Bloody Valentine, A.R. Kane began their life inspired by/derivative of The Jesus and Mary Chain…
… and immediately set about carving new, previously u-imagined, sonic territories. But unlike MbV, A.R. Kane exists as (at best) a minor footnote in the history of music. One can only hope this compilation nudges the world in their direction a little bit.
Here’s where they were a year later.
Simultaneously narcotic and abrasive, they were the missing link between Love and Throbbing Gristle, between Miles Davis and TV On The Radio. So forward-looking they missed the holes in front of them, the band sounded determined to swallow every sound in the universe and spit it back in their own image.
The missing link between Robert Wyatt and Disco Inferno, A. R. Kane sounded equally at home in the club as in the bedroom, under the stars and in the studio. They managed to be both industrial and psychedelic, soothing buzzsaws and eviscerating sighs.
If Michael Jackson has collaborated with them instead of Teddy Riley, he might have actually become the King of Pop. These guys were so far ahead of R&B and Pop and Electronic music that only now, in the wake of Burial and The Weeknd, are people beginning to catch up.
The band knew how to write melodies that get stuck in your head for days, but they aimed higher than that. Why live in the charts when you can die traveling through space? It’s electronic dub that pisses all over the best moments from Screamadelica, ambience that renders The Orb and Aphex damn near irrelevant. A. R. Kane made some of the most hallucinatory, fragmented and jaw-droppingly beautiful music you’ve ever heard.
Samples and strings, machines and malevolence, it’s the sound of frozen milk beginning to melt. It’s music for dolphins, our intellectual superiors. Too bad for A. R. Kane there aren’t any record stores in the oceans. Yet.
By the time they reached ‘A Love From Outer Space’, the sound of ‘Love to Love You Baby’ as imagined by Prince, it sounded like A. R. Kane could have had hits any time they wanted.
For a brief moment in the early 90s an entire sonic universe was laid out before musicians. And being the gutless cowards most musicians are, they grabbed their guitars and insisted The Kinks still needed to be explored/exploited further, only this time with a smug cynicism that Ray Davies could never quite muster, because even in his darkest moments he still couldn’t help loving the rest of the human race. In retrospect, Britpop sounds like a pathetic retreat, a conservative failure of nerve. So does the US rock of Nirvana and their followers.
At times, as they ventured past melody, past song, A.R. Kane threatened to disappear entirely. Their next single might be in morse code, or a dial tone, or the hum of satellites, or total silence. One can only hope Miles Davis lived long enough to hear ‘Is This Is?’.
This compilation covers their singles career: versions, dub, and remixes. Thirty-three songs, one for every year of Christ’s life, one for every 12” revolution with a little bit left over. They exist in mystery, as buried legends waiting to be unearthed. This compilation allows them to breathe again, to walk in the world they played a part in creating.