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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic classic from 1989..., 14 Jun 2005
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I (Audio CD)
AR Kane were a band who received much critical acclaim in the late 1980's, notably for the albums '69' and 'I' - letting music critics go off on one with adjectives such as "crystalline", "oceanic", "ethereal","uterine", "dreamlike", "(insert suggestion here, if you like)." Comparisons included Cocteau Twins (Robin Guthrie produced their 'Lolita' e.p.), Robert Wyatt (notably 'Rock Bottom'), 'Get Up With It'-Miles & the otherworldly records of Tim Buckley ('Star Sailor','Lorca').
AR Kane, like My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3 & Ultra Vivid Scene, advanced pop and rock hugely - predicting the penchant for head-music in the early 1990s. The eclectic nature of 'I' which encompasses electronica (Love from Outer Space),dub (Catch My Drift), Sun-Ra style space-jazz (many of the interludes/much of the album), pop (er, Pop), classical (In a Circle), soul-pop (What's All This Then?), Cocteaus-style ambience (Sugarwings), goth-rock (Insect Love) & feedback-drone music (Supervixens, sort of like Associates circa-'Sulk' fronted by Robert Smith thinking of 'Playing With Fire.').
'I' was much more adventerous than the truly popular indie-records of the time- 'Nowhere' by Ride, 'The Stone Roses','The House of Love' & 'Bummed'/'Pills, Thrills...' by Happy Mondays - which were all less adventerous. Perhaps AR Kane were too rich a notion at the time? - ironic when they technically had a number #1 with their Colourbox-collaboration 'Pump Up the Volume' as M/A/R/S! The 26-tracks flow together, wonderfully linking the eclectic elements together, and predicting acts like Main, Massive Attack (circa 'Mezzanine') & Seefeel. 'I' could even be seen as a precursor of such eclectic joys as 'Screamadelica' by Primal Scream, 'Every Man & Woman is a Star' by Ultramarine, 'Giant Steps' by The Boo Radleys & Radiohead's 'Kid A/Amnesciac'-set...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A London Labyrinth favourite, 6 April 2000
This review is from: I (Audio CD)
This is one of the most criminally undervalued albums of all time. I'm not sure any good comes from debating the extent to which the music press like to keep black musicians assigned to safe stereo-typed genres but AR Kane's redefinition of the threads of popular music and refusal to specialise in anything less than the big picture was largely overlooked in the eighties in favour of contemporaries such as My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus And Mary Chain. AR Kane had a superior melodic knack and a far broader palette. This album is a dreamworld bursting with ideas. Not that it's merely an index of possibilities. Tracks like 'Sugarwings' are perfectly realised heavenly moments while, on the dark final side, they manage to playfully nod towards the legacies of punk, dub and pop as they single-mindedly delve deeper into their unique, emotionally-charged world. " I just challenge anyone to listen to them and not cry..." And smile.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 80% brilliant double album, 27 Mar 2006
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I (Audio CD)
It takes a very courageous artist to change their methodology when it has brought them critical and to some extent commercial success. But after the diaphanous ambitious anthems of "69" that's exactly what AR Kane did for the follow up "I", a sprawling double album which with its esoteric all over the place approach brought to mind The Beatles "White Album". It's not as good as that, but it doesn't fall that far short either.
Taking a pick and mix method "I" is to a large extent a retreat back to the barbed wire pop of their earlier recordings like "When You're Sad" in that it embraces melody and resurrects the song .But in doing that it flies off at obscure tangents with head spinning fervour. "Love From Outer Space" for instance is pop, but has the physicality and thumping bass of house music. Before they used to glide slowly like some oceanic leviathan, now they high step across the dance floor. Ironically there is a song called "Pop" which is fairly...uuhh pop!...With soul undertones marbled through it like rich blue sediment ...while still leaving space for squalls of feedback. "Snow Joke" delights in one of the most infectious string arrangements lent to a song since My Life Story, s "You Don't, Sparkle". "Catch My Drift" is an elegant entropy of dubbed reggae while "Crack Up" springs about like a demented lamb. "Hello" the albums opener, is repetitious but sizzles with intent and vigour. "Spook" is the sort of razor sharp /honey coated pop/rock song the Jesus And Mary Chain made their trademark. "Insect Love" is all hard brilliantine surfaces, proud stern rock.
In amongst all this some echoes and refractions of the more traditional AR Kane remain. "And Sai" is the torpor belied explosion of some deep space mass, all glittering embers and diffuse shafts of luminescence ."Yeti "is a carousel of feedback as is the more somnambulant "Honey Suckle Swallow" a Cocteau Twins title if ever I heard one. "Down" is Alex and Rudi at their most aloof and disdainful, a reserved pristine flowing of sound. There are snippets of songs and random noises that add nothing to the album, either as means to segue from one track to the next or as pieces in their own right.
20% of this album is rudimentary ( no pun intended) indulgent tat and the oft heard cliché, which is presumably why it's a cliché, about there being a brilliant single album is probably pertinent here. But AR Kane were never about commercial prostitution or laurel resting .Indeed they could have cashed on the success of their collaboration with Colourbox- "Pump Up The Volume" but they never considered it. They could have churned out another "69"....138 maybe, but they didn't ...they made "I". A sometimes infuriating but quite often superb double album. AR Kane made music for them selves and sod the rest of us...which is how it should be. Maybe that's why they called it "I" and not U?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lose yourself in the conundrum, 21 Jun 2011
This review is from: I (Audio CD)
AR Kane are a group that defy easy categorization. They found a home of sorts in late 80s British alternative rock, and even then they were a curious anamoly within the confines of indiedom. After all, when a couple of black musicians appeared on the scene professing to be influenced by the Cocteau Twins and Miles Davis, while their music featured dreamlike pop overlaid with chaotic, often violent guitar storms, it caused brows to furrow.

But this was nothing compared to the endless question marks that 'i' provided and still provides to this day. With their first album '69' and early EPs AR Kane have a vision, albeit a vision that encapsulates an often bewildering array of feelings and states of mind, but a vision nonetheless. 'i' throws all that out of the window. It initially appears more straightened out and tightened up than the drifting, fractured '69' but once you listen to it a few times and let it get inside your head, you discover it's even more twisted and confusing, but in the best way possible.

Musically 'i' is all over the map, but rather than mixing it all up a la 'The White Album' the tracks are sequenced so it starts off inoffensively enough before getting stranger and stranger (the opposite of Associates' 'Sulk' perhaps). Listening to 'i' in its entirety is like delving deeper and deeper into a black hole. As it continues upon its bizarre journey, songs and ideas fly around and at you, and pop like bubbles before you have a chance to get a grip (rather like the way 'Pop' describes how the bubble of a relationship bursts). The inter-linking snippets of noise and dialogue add to this sense of giddying momentum, hastening you ever forwards and onwards.

Once you arrive at the final side of 'i' where the album loses self-control and flies off the handle in breathtaking fashion, it almost feels like everything before was merely a prelude, leading up to this volatile final straight. But then you go back to the beginning once more and listen to the mild-mannered dance-pop of the first few tracks, and the knowledge that the monster gets unleashed during the ominous trilogy of 'Down' / 'Supervixens' / 'Insect Love' gives even the insanely catchy 'Snow Joke' a slightly sinister air. The sprawl is everything, adding ever more layers to the experience.

Whereas a similar left-field masterpiece of its time such as My Bloody Valentine's 'Loveless' can be pinned down and understood (despite providing endless possibilities for guitar rock), 'i' offers no such certainties, but is all the more fascinating and endurable because of it. It hardly ever makes sense, and probably never will. But even if the questions never get answered, I can't think of a better way to be baffled or confused as listening to 'i'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sprawling, 12 May 2007
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This review is from: I (Audio CD)
Listening to their first album ,69, just goes to show how sonically diverse this band can be, creating a double(ish) album that pulls influences from all over the musical map. From dance orientated "love from outer space" to rock "insect love" to reggae dipped "catch my drift".

I say double(ish) as there are intersecting random bursts of noise which, i guess, help carry it into the next song. One the great underrated albums of the 80s, shame as you can here the influence in so many bands that came after.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcending the boundaries of jazz, soul and indie., 28 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: I (Audio CD)
It may be a little known fact to many but the members of A R Kane have enjoyed a number one hit when they teamed up with fellow 'no-hopers' (in the commercial sense) Colourbox as M/A/R/R/S with the 1987 hit 'Pump Up The Volume' which makes them one-hit wonders. But A R Kane's future successes were only in the alternative charts and they don't come much more alternative than these two albums. Their sound was an odd mixture of early Cocteau Twins like production (cavernous bass, dub soundscapes) with soulful vocals. The second album lasts over an hour and is made up of 16 songs and 10 'interludes' of white noise and samples all of which clock in at around 30 seconds. The songs themselves are almost universally great from hypnoptic, more pop-oriented numbers like 'Love From Outer Space', 'Miles Apart' and 'Pop' to the gorgeous, spectral 'Sugarwings'.
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I by A.R. Kane (Audio CD - 1999)
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