About

                                               

Raf and O are Raf Mantelli and O Richard Smith. The two piece band from South East London deliver a vortex of live electronics, acoustic instruments and fragile, magnetic, strange lullabies married to a pop spirit.

 


Garnering widespread acclaim in the UK / Europe and later US and Canada since 2008, Raf and OAKA Raf Mantelli and Richard Smith (O) from South East London have created a buzz with exciting performances of their unique detailed avant-pop, fusing electro/ acoustic drums, vocals, synths, live electronics, acoustic guitar and fx. Supporting artists such as Faust, Little Annie Bandez, they were special guests in Richard Strangeʼs production for William S. Burroughs centenary in the grand settings of Queen Elizabeth Hall, they were praised by Bowieʼs pianist Mike Garson for their unique interpretation of Lady Grinning Soul and following a live BBC session, performed at the legendary Beckenham Free Festival Remake (Memory Of A Free Festival 2013/ 2014) and featured on David Bowie Official.  In 2014, Raf and O released their second album ‘Time Machine’ and eponymous ‘Time Machine’ EP on Telephone Records (with remixes by Merlin & Charles Hayward of This Heat fame, Kumo, collaborator of Irmin Schmidt from Can and Robert Logan, electronic composer, contributor to Grace Jones‘ releases) to wondrous press acclaim.

The album made the Top 10 albums list of 2014 picked by Joe Muggs on FACT Magazine , they were featured on Ableton Live Expert and was reviewed, amongst others, in the Quietus by legendary journalist David Stubbs.

“The excellent Time Machine represents the very antithesis of EDM …There is a butterfly, acoustic delicacy about tracks like ‘Mad And Brilliant’, and yet also the deceptive, steel strength of spider silk in their complex weaving – Raf’s vocal ranges far and wide in her emotional and lyrical foragings… The album takes a lovely turn with a cover of David Bowie’s ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ from Aladdin Sane, a theme song for an imaginary Bond movie, whose warm, analogue synth waves remind of Brian Eno circa Before And After Science …Freeze-frame any given second of this album and it’ll reveal a hive of pixellated, analogue activity.” DAVID STUBBS, THE QUIETUS 

Recently Raf and O were invited to celebrate Bowieʼs life with a performance at the Union Chapel, and composed music for the theatre play ‘That Woman’s Voiceʼ a Tribute to Jean Cocteau and The Human Voice’ staged at Camden Fringe Festival. They featured on Mitra Music for Nepal, a compilation to help the victims of the disaster, with a previously unrealesed track ‘With Fatzer’, alongside Ryuichi Sakamoto, The The, Nick Cave, Attrition, Anni Hogan (Marc and the Mambas) and many others. Collaborations include working with  Gagarin (Nico, Pere Ubu), Washington based Blk Tag, Emmy nominated electronic composer and Robert Logan (Grace Jones). Raf and O’s latest split EP ‘Sonnet 62/ Ink’ features two collaborations with Logan. The three spent a series of sessions working closely in the same space, concocting a deconstructed and layered amalgamation of song, electronic sounds, dense atmospheres and organic instruments, textures and further exploration of fragmentation.
Seductive and alien, a machine driven twitchy gallop into the ether…Raf, sounding at her most rich and mature vocally, soothes and coos like a cross between Beth Gibbons and a female David Sylvian” Dominic Valvona, MONOLITH COCKTAIL

Raf and O are releasing their third album ‘Portalʼ on Telephone Records. From the spiralling and climaxing  ‘Dream Machine’ which opens the album, inspired by the Flicker documentary and later performed at the Burroughs centenary, to the evocative landscape of ‘Sonnet 62’ where the pair have set music to Shakespeare, to the autumnal sound of ‘Drunk’; here Raf explores her Florentine roots within a narrative set by her auntie’s 1960’s poetry and memory. From ‘Win’, a new Raf and O interpretation of Bowie’s classic track on ‘Young Americans’ and the intense quasi-pop ‘Echoes’ (live) taken from the 2014 Beckenham bandstand performance, to the textural landscape of ‘Mona Lisa Smiles II’ and the narcotic effect of ‘The Deadliest Flower’.
The Album launch is in London, 22nd July 2016 at St James The Less, Westminster, promoted by Kaparte.

Raf Mantelli – Vocals, ‘Star’ acoustic guitar, synths, electronics.
Richard Smith (O) – Electro/ acoustic drums & DIY triggers, synths, electronics.

Raf and O live at Starman Bowie Celebration, Union Chapel

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  • Archives

  • BUY PORTAL CD Album HERE

    PORTAL ALBUM LAUNCH is PENNYBLACK MUSIC GIG OF THE YEAR 2016 picked by John Clarkson

    “Raf and O specialise in floaty and delicate musical paintings. Raf’s dreamy vocals leading the way but more often than not melting into the instrumentation. The highlights include a track based on the words of Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 62’ and a version of David Bowie’s ‘Win’ which is almost unrecognisable and utterly charming. All in all, this is beautiful stuff.”

    Push, ELECTRONIC SOUND

    “Raf and O are a band of kaleidoscopic, unusual ideas, and, with ‘Portal’, they have created a remarkable record. There is a celestial, otherworldly element to them…they are totally unique”

    PENNYBLACKMUSIC MAGAZINE

    “A further voyage into their adventurous musical dreams, spliced with the literary influences of William Seward Burroughs and Shakespeare.”

    GOD IS IN THE TV ZINE

    “The sublime new album by Raf and O is called ‘Portal’.
    It’s very difficult to choose highlights from such a consistently winning record”

    ADRIAN SPECS

    “Raf and O’s gothic and magical references are twisted to conjure up ominous visions, to a backing track of free-spirited avant-jazz drumming, trip-hop and contorted machine music …from esoteric Italian to plague originated nursery rhyme English, on ‘Drunk’, to channeling a smoky bar room Scott Walker vibe, on ‘Neurons’… Paying homage once again to their biggest inspiration, David Bowie, the duo transforms the original into a beautifully melting, strung-out plucked love recital. Brilliantly shimmering with an affectionate, ruminating and heart-aching vocal … the album cementing the partnership’s unique narratives and poetic views of a machine age and cybernetic world”

    MONOLITH COCKTAIL

    “I was at the QEH for a Burroughs night, where I saw Raf Mantelli and O Richard Smith, aka Raf and O, deliver a superb if too short set to the large and appreciative audience they really deserve.”

    DAVID STUBBS

    “If you are looking for instant gratification in a busy world, try listening to “The Deadliest Flower” or “Magic” to give you an insight into just one window pane of their diverse work”

    HUMAN DYNAMICS

  • BUY SONNET 62/ INK EP – OUT NOW

    ‘Seductive and alien…Aboard a haunted freighter in the deepest reaches of deep space…soothes and coos like a cross between Beth Gibbons and a female David Sylvian…It is both equally seductive and alien, a machine driven twitchy gallop into the ether. Creeping into the dense hallucinatory environment of ‘A Reason To Try’, the trio stir untethered in a strange soup of churned up beats and solar tidal waves’

    MONOLITH COCKTAIL

  • BUY TIME MACHINE CD Album HERE

    FACT magazine Top 10 album of 2014 picked by Joe Muggs

    “The excellent Time Machine represents the very antithesis of EDM ..There is a butterfly, acoustic delicacy about tracks like ‘Mad And Brilliant’, and yet also the deceptive, steel strength of spider silk in their complex weaving – Raf’s vocal ranges far and wide in her emotional and lyrical foragings…Freeze-frame any given second of this album and it’ll reveal a hive of pixellated, analogue activity…As with Time Machine as a whole, it’s an approach you’d do well to take up, if you know what’s good for you.”

    DAVID STUBBS, THE QUIETUS

    “One of the more memorable events of the Beckenham Festival in September 2013 was RAF AND O’s haunting performance of David Bowie’s Lady Grinning Soul”

    DAVID BOWIE OFFICIAL

    “A beguiling slice of noir-pop…a total treat”

    THE GIRLS ARE

    “Tripped-out hypnotic Raf and O embody the exploratory art school/mime period Bowie. Their sound springs from a conjuncture of Aladdin Sane and The Man Who Fell To Earth, but with an added allure of trip-hop…Tender and diaphanous, from bent out of shape Air meets folkloric avant-noir to ESG and Radiohead’s Hail To The Thief”

    MONOLITH COCKTAIL

    “Whispering their song like tomorrow’s cautionary lullabies sent backward to today as an omen of intrigue.”

    IMPOSE MAGAZINE

  • BUY TIME MACHINE EP HERE

    “Interstellar spaciousness”

    EXCLAIM MAGAZINE

    “Four versions of the leading ‘Time Machine’ journey beyond the stratosphere, kooky, mysterious and breathy, attracting an impressive trio of sonic cosmonauts”

    MONOLITH COCKTAIL

  • BUY LADY GRINNING SOUL/ THE FOG HERE

    “Very creative. I enjoyed it a lot”

    MIKE GARSON

    “Raf and O caress Bowie”

    BOWIE WONDERWORLD

    “A moving Avant – Bizarre version of Lady Grinning Soul”

    GOD IS IN THE TV ZINE