Music Reviews

A Moment In Music History: A.R. Kane And the Birth Of Dream Pop


Sure we’ve all heard of big names in music like Lorde and Lana Del Rey. Both artists have had major success as mainstream artists, and have had hits put into heavy rotation at radio stations across the country. One common influence between the two is that they both have dreampop inspired music. Even before Lorde and Lana there was dreampop band My Bloody Valentine, a band out of Dublin, Ireland who had success in the U.S. during the early 90’s. Much thanks is owed to the U.K. music scene for birthing the sub-genres that make up the modern sound put on the radio today. Most recently, thanks to Daniel Bedingfield for giving Fifth whore-mony, I mean Fifth Harmony, the inspiration that placed them on the Billboard Hot 100. But anyway, let’s go back in time and pay homage to the band that coined the term “dreampop,” A.R. Kane.

A.R. Kane: The Origin Story

Londoners Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala officially formed A.R. Kane in late 1985. Tambala once described the band’s sound as “ a bit Velvet Underground, a bit Cocteau Twins, a bit Miles Davis, a bit Joni Mitchell.” When they started developing their sound they didn’t have a drummer, and composed their first demo with just a guitar and two cassette players. The band coined the term “dreampop” in the late 80’s around the time of their debut album, 69. The album had a very stripped down sound, and tracks that at times straddled the line of music and noise. One of the hits from the album, “Baby Milk Snatcher,” inspired My Bloody Valentine to run with the sound and make an album.

The Height Of Success And “Pump Up The Volume”

 If the band’s name isn’t ringing a bell at this point then maybe bringing up 1987’s house hit “Pump Up the Volume” will help with recollection. The band reluctantly collaborated with Colourbox to make the single; the two groups couldn’t physically work along each other to complete the track due to creative differences, so each group took turns adding parts. Despite the conflict involved with producing the track, the two groups released the song under the name MARRS. The track was a hit and made its presence known on music charts in the U.S. and the U.K.

The unaccredited Legacy And Reformation of the Band

The legacy of A.R. Kane transcends dreampop. The band broke racial barriers by going beyond what critics and music fans expected of black musicians. There were occasions when the band would go on stage for a show, and immediately onlookers would assume they were Reggae musicians. The dread headed duo eventually parted ways in 1994, but it was announced last year that Rudy was in the process of reassembling the group minus Alex. The new A.R. Kane did a show recently and when they took the stage Rudy recounts that there were very few in the audience that were familiar with the band. Hopefully the word will spread with regards to how important the East London dread heads are to music history.

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Will Eady
Born and raised in the birthplace of Funk, and arguably the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, music is in my veins. If names like Bootsy Collins, and the Ohio Players ring a bell, then you know where I come from. As a musician and poet myself, I have an appreciation for art that hasn’t been inundated by the agendas of major labels and networks. Recently I’ve been sharing music and connecting with artists via social media. Follow me on Instagram @mainstream_music_isgarbage.