This great, now-overlooked shoegaze duo from the late 1980s and early '90s released only three proper studio albums, but lots of EPs and 12-inch singles fill out their impressive body of work, the depth and breadth of which is demonstrated in this two-disc, 33-track package.
Alex Ayuli and Rudi Tambala comprised A.R. Kane, and their engaging experiments in dream pop, drone rock, jazz funk, avant-garde, electronica, dance music and sonic collages earned them comparisons to such acts as the Jesus and Mary Chain and most of the roster at 4AD Records.
Much of A.R. Kane's attraction derived from their balance of the sacred and profane, the tender and the brutal. Genuinely creepy songs such as "Butterfly Collector," "Lollita," "Haunting" and "Baby Milk Snatcher" also are genuinely beautiful.
Even on more heavy-handed tracks, such as "Sado-Masochism is a Must" and "Sperm Travels Like Juggernaut," the lack of subtlety is mitigated by playful irony. Casual listeners might question the need for multiple versions of some tunes, but when alternate takes and dance remixes are included, each is substantially different from the original version.
These tunes offer glimpses of the soft, white underbelly of desire and need. But listening to A.R. Kane also is deliciously disorienting—it might make you feel as if you're in the midst of The Matrix, with streams of musical code cascading around you, simultaneously logical and incomprehensible. Did you take the red pill or the blue pill?