The Ah Club-

Kiss the Sky Goodbye LP/CD


Puncture #39 Summer 1997

"Instantly appealing, the Ah Club mix temperamental naiveté and playfully inventive dance music. Aubrey Brengelman is responsible for laying down a groovy if sometimes sentimental loop-the-loop for Carol Paine to sing over. His foundation takes in elements from big band brassiness to insipid elevator music and Dr. Dre slow jams.
The contrast between their styles is disconcerting. It's almost as if Carol is performing karaoke to Aubrey's techie tunes. Her voice lies right on top of his material, never quite blending in. While Aubrey's pasted-together soundscape is confined by prerecorded beats and rhythmic sampling, Carol's voice is as human as can be. Her singing falters, and barely manages to stay in tune. It verges on apathetic flatness, yet lacks the self-consciousness to sound insincere.
When technology allows Carol to sing with Carol, things sound warped. She drags herself down and gets echoed into gothic murk. For "In This Quiet Place", amusingly sampled from Slint, Paine vocally resembles Kendra Smith in her Opal days. At other times, her corpsey delivery is reminiscent of Nico, or a talky Kim Gordon.
Fran Gibson of the Cannanes contributes vocals to "Bitter Days", providing a foil of sanity to Paine. Gibson has a vulnerable quality to her voice that Paine lacks. In comparison, she seems a foreboding maritime spook. As Kiss the Sky Goodbye plays, Aubrey's background begins to seem obscenely upbeat as Carol's melancholy endures. She never cheers up, and you start to wonder whether she was having fun singing along with Aubrey and herself-or if it was some sort of exorcism".-B. Burns

Washington City Paper 2/14/97

"There is absolutely no way I can listen to the Ah Club without thinking of a visit I made to the duo's Haight-Ashbury pad, where I was introduced by a couple of traveling companions. When we arrived, tape-loop wizard Aubrey Brengelman decided to take a break from studying geometry-one of many during the afternoon-and introduced me to some friends working on beat tracks and a loaded tokemaster. Brengelman immediately entered our road-trip mythology as a pothead extraordinaire, and his music supports this impression. The Ah Club sounds most like a lo-fi Tricky, packing languorous beats and accidental sophistication into songs that seldom clock in over two minutes. While Brengelman plays back reel-to-reel loops mined from his record collection (note the use of Slint's 'O Captain' [sic-ed] on the epic 'In This Quiet Place'), his live-in partner, Carol Paine, sings sweet, breathy love lines in a sometimes awkward, girlish voice. (The pair have since broken up, leading to speculations that this vinyl/CD follow-up to the cassette-only Squeeze Your Cares Away will be the last Ah Club release.) At their best, these songs, particularly 'One Less' or the funky 'Know My Purpose,' overlap rhythms and surprising melodic elements (piano, big-band horns, ukulele) with inadvertent menace-I often think of early Chris and Cosey records. At their worst, the songs dribble aimlessly like so much bongwater. Overall, this disarming music is delicious-and bold-in its rough-cut, melancholy simplicity.-Jeff Bagato

Dialogue With Space #9

"The Ah Club finally enter the big time with their LP/CD Kiss The Sky Goodbye, a warped trance hop record that wobbles around the turntable. Evolving from old school hip-hop and white bread culture, the Ah Club put a tingle up my spine with their dark rhymes. Repetitive and sloppy, dark and eerie, the Ah Club manage to be a refreshing presence in an increasingly boring genre. Maybe a lawsuit over the samples on the album will get them some press. Available to us fine citizens of the world through Shrimper, this is supposedly a co-release with Squealer, but my CD shows no sign of them. Maybe they're keeping a low profile in fear of the brewing law suit. I know I'll be working for the 'SAVE SHRIMPER AND SQUEALER FUND' if need be (though they'll probably just go after Shrimper because they know they're the ones with the big bucks). With only two tracks making it over the two minute mark, Carol Paine drops the bomb on the mic, preaching poetry with a tired voice that yearns in the night. Aubrey Brengelman turns the squeaky crank on these loops at irregular tempos, weaving a spell that's lumpy and perfect for this white boy's rhythm. Party music for the most deranged of gatherings, the album is also worthy of a sit-down listen. The lyrics can put that stern look in the eye while you gaze out the window wondering why you've suddenly become so serious. Either that, or you'll shake your head in disbelief with a goofy smile because minimal is magnificent, and these cheap loops that are barely making their way around are alive in a late-night-stoned-wheat thin kinda way, if you get the drift. I know you're too embarrassed to play that Portishead album anymore, so here's something new for you. Dennis Callaci has designed another fine cover, and I particularly liked his 'shoot outs' thanks section (rather than shout outs) for making me proud to be white and awkward. Buy it now before some dumbass turns you on to it first".

Ptolemaic Terrascope No. 25, 1998

"Steve Pescott was taken with the Ah Club's album Kiss the Sky Goodbye: 'there's quite a lot of this tape 'n' pillage about at the moment - file under 'sampler pop' if it's got to have a handle; see Sukpatch and Land of the Loops and now the Ah Club, who've emerged for a full-lengther after numerous cassette releases on Shrimper and Toytown, amongst others. Formed in 1991 this twosome of Carol Paine (vocals) and Aubrey Brengelman (loops) concoct some fragile yet at the same time unsettling and discordant sound-snatches totaling nineteen tracks, with only a couple over two minutes! Sometimes Carol's voice gets 'treated', as on 'You're So Far Away' which pitches and yaws enough for an attack of mal-der-mer. Aubrey's pick'n'mix looping skills employ microdots of Sixties r'n'b, horn blares and lounge tinkles - all of which remain fresh because I can't identify any of the sound sources, dammit."-Steve Pescott

Mole Magazine #10

"Aubrey runs out real tape loops on his reel to reel to provide the rhythms and Carol delivers wistful deadpan vox straight to your heart. The result are mini-pop masterpieces hidden among all the chaff higher up on the surface of the indie food chain. Sometimes gropes the eerie beauty of early Chris and Cosey (like C&C's post TG 'Driving Blind'), sometimes very sophisticated with horns and piano loops thrown in-as 'Somewhere to Be' or with killer bass and soul backing on 'Know My Purpose.' Always charming, always a delight. Handscreened covers on LP'.