Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #159 - A.R. Kane, "i"

An act that used to appear on end of year lists in the music inkies and one of this week's John Peel Archive albums. They were also part of M/A/R/R/S* a couple of years before this came out and 1989 is the beginning of my engaging with music and the wider world, so this should be an interesting choice.

"Love from Outer Space" sounds something like a late Eighties Hot Chip: some strings sliding, some slightly snotty singing, some busy percussion and a straight-forward lyric. "Crack Up" is more what I might expect from the era, rumbling and restless bass and some discordant business on top to represent alternativity."Wat's All This Then?" has a dancehall feel to it, and "Snow Joke" has the 808 pulse and congas that mark it firmly in their time.

There are arty little chunks in between many of the tunes. There's even a bit of chamber orchestra business on "In a Circle". "Miles Apart" is a bit of indie jangle with a whimsical piano line adding something a little different. I thought "Pop" might unlock a couple of angles; but it's a little oblique for this time in the evening. I'm assuming the "Baby, baby, baby!" is for ironic purposes: the band themselves said that they were making dream pop, so I might wrong.  The predominant theme is relationships. I can't offer anything more profound than that.

The floating dream of the music moves in pieces across the album like clouds: it's an obvious metaphor, but a useful one. (Probably not something I would've settled for back in January.) It's a big album too, but was initially released on vinyl, so I will let them off my usual rebuke for self-indulgent CDs that need a butcher's knife taking to them. They're a band with a lot of space to move about in.

"Supervixens" adds layers and layers of squall and pop panic to another looping bassline. The Eighties were that bit more panicked from what I remember. "Insect Love" is again pretty furious, thrashing soul/pop/rock crossover. They are sitting at the crossover; but I can't pick up the lyrics. The last full track, "Catch My Drift", is back on the dub bus again. "Why don't you/Slash my wrists?" he asks. Then a sampled tenor trots alongside the tune. Then they end with a sample of "I just challenge anyone to listen to them and not cry."

I've not been able to do much more than string brief descriptions of the tunes together rather than bring my massive intellect to bear. I'm sorry about that. But I can't detect anything else going on aside from the songs about touch and panic and yearning and apologies and other pop impulses, stretched out over an experimental indie frame - but not so strongly as they crack and split, just slightly lose their shape.

Rating: Dream Cream out of Exploration

*There's a 20 second track called "Mars" with no obvious connection.

No comments: