Electronic Sound Reviews Portal, Raf and O Cover Scott Walker, Bowie Reflections, Italian Summer, Live on Radio and Magic on Video, Halloween DJ’s and other outings.
December 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
Well, this year is “almost” over and before the new one begins we thought we’d endeavour to bring you news, thoughts, collection and recollections of the last 4 months and this will include the playlist for a special dj set we did at this year’s Kaparte Oxjam. In July we launched our new album ‘PORTAL’ (available ‘HERE‘) at the wonderful St James The Less in Pimlico (see previous blog). It has now been reviewed on Electronic Sound Magazine!
“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
(See picture below for the whole review).
We also launched an EP containing two tracks from Portal and two tracks with Raf and O working alongside electronicist and Grace Jones’s collaborator Robert Logan (available HERE).
Now, the latest! Raf and O have covered the very beautiful Scott Walker’s ‘Such a Small Love’ as part of ‘Plastic Palace People’, an exclusive streamable and downloadable album curated by God Is In The TV Zine! We’re thoroughly proud to offer this Seasonal gift, which we recorded in Florence for your festive digestive. Listen and free download below.
The portal will lead us into 2017. 2016 has been a very strange year, a lot of crazy things happening and a lot of people left us David Bowie included. A very recent trip to the wonderful Lazarus Musical brought forward this consciousness, stirring up feelings and sadness, a shared feeling by Bowie fans across the world. But Lazarus is also a celebration of his artistry and alongside Blackstar, the inner workings of a man facing up to his own mortality. This summer we returned to Beckenham for Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity (formerly Memory Of A Free Festival and Beckenham Free Festival) and it was a complete joy/ honour to perform again as Raf and O. Huge love unified all performers musicians, organisers workers and the crowd, all celebrating the Starman. Lovely contributions by many, a real pleasure to share the stage with Maggi Ronson and the band Jona Lewie, David Live, Clifford Slapper, Amory Kane and more. Thanks to all involved who contributed to make this day very special especially Wendy Faulkner who worked very hard in bringing this year’s festival together and it was brill catching up with Mary Finnigan again who organised the festival with Bowie in 1969. We’ve got some footage shot by the lovely Rhianna, that we’ll post soon, so watch out for that! Alongside new Raf and O material, our set included Bowie’s ‘Lady Grinning Soul’, ‘Win’ included in our last album ‘Portal’ and even a short rendition of ‘After All’.
This is us doing our thing captured beautifully by mister Gaz De Vere. Continues below.
Raf and O Live at Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity aka Memory Of A Free Festival © Gaz De Vere
A Starman in the sky. picture by O.
Since the festival, we traveled to Italy to do some writing and recording including our Scott Walker cover, played a few parties and the excellent Frame Live Club In La Spezia (see press above) on the Ligurian Coast where we were warmly welcomed and throughly enjoyed playing the show to such a receptive audience. Thanks to Alan Pride for keeping things running smooth and on our return to the UK we were kept fairly busy supporting TE Morris from Her Name Is Calla at Chaos Theory’s Whispers and Hurricanes, putting together a special Dj Set (see above) for this year’s Kaparte Oxjam at the Slaughtered Lamb and we played a live session on the Dexter Bentley’s Hello Goodbye show on Resonance FM alongside The Monochrome Set.
In the words of Dexter Bentley “the original post-punk / arch-pop pioneers The Monochrome Set, plus ethereal, futuristic folk duo Raf & O”.
And Monolith Cocktail also featured ‘Portal’ in the top albums of 2016.
Here below is the podcast Raf and O live on Resonance FM and following that is our live performance of ‘Magic’ from ‘Portal’ lovingly filmed and edited by Riff Underground and Peter Junge. Many thanks to them both and to Chaos Theory for this video.
And to bookend the year, Raf and O just performed at the Xmas edition of the one and only Scaledown in the heart of London. We have a few things brewing but for now wishing you all a peaceful, productive, engaging holiday and see you back in 2017.
Raf and O X
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July 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
Weird times! Schrodinger’s door keeps us in suspense. In this climate and just three weeks away we open ours: we are celebrating with the Launch of our new album ‘Portal’ within the breathtaking space of St James The Less, a Gothic Revival church in the heart of Pimlico.
‘From the spiraling 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’ (born from the remoulding of source material by Blk Tag) and the narcotic effect of ‘The Deadliest Flower’’.
Come! Don’t miss this unique event, it will be a once only opportunity to hear us playing the new album in its entirety!
Raf and O ‘Portal’ album launch is on July 22nd, London, promoted by our dear friend Klarita of the excellent Kaparte.
A selection of ticket prices are available, including a strictly limited edition of Raf and O posters and cards, handwritten lyrics, the new album and more!
TICKETS AND BUNDLES
Pre-orders for the PORTAL CD ALBUM are available now.
Delighted that Robert Logan will be the special guest joining us for this celebration! Robert is an electronic composer/ producer; he has collaborated with Grace Jones, Brigitte Fontaine, Steve Roach, Skye (Morcheeba) and Raf and O. As we’ve previously announced, a taste of the fruits from this collaboration is a SPLIT EP ‘SONNET 62/INK’– freshly released on Telephone Records!
It features two tracks by Raf and O ‘Sonnet 62’ and ‘Worms’ and two tracks by Raf and O and Robert Logan, ‘Ink’ and ‘A Reason To Try’.
Get your copy ‘HERE!!’
Monolith cocktail reviews the EP and previews the album:‘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…Imbued heavily with Bowie’s spirit … lingering traces of post-Krautrock, the Gamelan music of Java and Bali and Sheffield synth new wave… the trio stir untethered in a strange soup of churned up beats and solar tidal waves…Aboard a haunted freighter in the deepest reaches of deep space…’.
Dominic Valvona, MONOLITH COCKTAIL
In the midst of producing our new video which will be unveiled soon, we met with Lindsay Kemp at the Ace Hotel; he was bright, funny, moving, elegant, a true star! A treat and an absolute joy to listen to him in conversation with Marc Almond. Another wonderful meeting occurred with another legend, a sound shape shifter that influenced so many people’s music, we will wait for permission to publish images! Back in March we had a great time playing the Crystal Palace Overground Festival fundraiser at the Anerley Town Hall with Metamono and friends and Pennyblack Music London Show too. More in store, so that will be in the next blog.
Come join us on the 22nd of July for what will be a very special night, the chance to buy the album before its actual release and more surprises to be announced!
See you in church!
Raf and O xxx
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Above. Photo taken at ‘Animals In The Wall’ William S Burroughs exhibition, 2014. Thanks to James Elphick and Yuri Zupančič
The Man Who Fell To Earth Returns to Space, Starman at Union Chapel, Overground Festival and Pennyblack Shows, Interview + Portal View
February 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
Two months into 2016, it’s time for a blog. It seems respectful to start with Bowie.
David Bowie, fell off our Earth on January 10th and the Earth was mourning. It was all so sudden two days after the release of his brilliant new album, he was gone, leaving us with Blackstar, an outstanding piece of work, daring and unafraid, revealing more than its fair share of brilliancy and courage in the aftermath of his death. Later, O and I went to Beckenham, we laid flowers on the bandstand, everything was flickering as clouds raced across greying skies. Those who have been following us know that Raf and O, a few years ago had been reworking Bowie’ s Lady Grinning Soul, included in our album ‘Time Machine’, celebrating our long-standing love for Bowie alongside our original material. We performed it at Memory Of A Free Festival (MOAFF) on the bandstand and received praise from the wonderful Mike Garson and David Bowie Official.
A week after his passing, we celebrated the Starman at the stunning Union Chapel, performing before an audience unified, together alongside many other artists including the Magic Numbers and David McAlmont. It was an honour tinged with great sadness. The event was broadcasted live. More photos of our performance can be found HERE courtesy of Ange LM photography.
And Garson just returned to the UK to pay tribute to David with Lorde and his old band, a beautiful surprise.
I was recently asked to describe my feelings on Bowie’s legacy and his passing. Here is a transcript from an interview I did with Dominic Simpson for Pennyblackmusic Magazine, as we are about to play Pennyblack first show of 2016. Find the full interview on the photo below.
PB: You’ve covered Bowie songs in the past live. Do you have any comments about his legacy on your music (and in life generally), and how you felt when he died recently?
RM: Okay, I’ll be honest with you, it felt like a great big punch in the stomach, I cried a lot and I was a mess. Many people felt a great deal of grief. One could say, is this an over-reaction? When you have felt empathy, an affinity since almost as early as you can remember towards someone you feel has been the catalyst that shaped your artistic perception, someone who was your biggest inspiration and a general obsession in the nicest possible connotation of the word, then you feel something has blown apart. I never tried to emulate Bowie, but in a sense, I feel like he has given me access to an approach and never fear to dare or to experiment. The way he worked harmonic progressions, for example, directly influenced me as a songwriter, he concocted the element of surprise and excitement, which I crave in music and then served it on a stage through performance, drama, allure and damn good singing. As I said, we performed last Sunday at the Starman celebrations at Union Chapel; it was an honour, but it felt unreal, unreal that he had gone. The man who fell to Earth returns to space but his music is everywhere.
2016 will see our follow-up to ‘Time Machine’, we are excited to soon be presenting our latest work. Raf and O‘s new album will be called ‘Portal’ featuring Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 62’ which we’ve set music to; a special edit preview was aired last Saturday on the Dexter Bentley show, Resonance FM. The album will also feature ‘Win’ our new take on Bowie’s classic from ‘Young Americans’. We recorded drum takes on January 10th…My heart sinks now when I think about the lyrics. As well as this, we will unveil some of the work stemmed by our collaboration with electronicist and Grace Jones’ s collaborator, Robert Logan. This will be part of a split EP released between ourselves and our collaboration ahead of the album. Lots more to come on these fronts, we will keep you updated, but watch out for latest news on our Facebook page.
On the live front, as well as Union Chapel, we recently guested at a private party, having previously played at Whisper and Hurricanes and Kaparte Oxjam.
“They had the room literally transfixed’ Miss Gish Blog
Recently DJ and journalist Joe Muggs from the Boiler Room has been spinning some early Raf and O album tracks and Mary Finnigan talks about our performance in her new book about Bowie, the time with him in 69, the Arts Lab, Beckenham Free Festival and Memory Of A Free Festival (its reprise in 2013 and 2014)
“Most impressive were Raf and O, a talented avant-garde duo influenced by David Bowie but no copycat.” Psychedelic Suburbia, Mary Finnigan.
Here is a video of Raf and O’s ending show of 2015 at Whisper and Hurricanes. Thanks to the Chaos Theory team. Continues below
Coming up shortly …some great gigs! Very much looking forward to March 12th, first Pennyblackmusic gig of 2016. Do join us, Raf and O support Nick Garrie, sixties British singer songwriter, at Sebright Arms, London. More details and TICKETS available HERE.
And then March 18th, Crystal Palace Overground Festival presents this festival fund-raising concert at Anerley Town Hall, a specially curated sonic line up including the great Metamono, who we shared a bill with last year, Raf and O, Sculpture, Brother G and the Trouble plus Junkshop Disco. An excellent audio visual event not to be missed! Strictly TICKETS advance only available HERE
Raf and O x
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Raf and O setting up at Starman, a celebration of David Bowie, Union Chapel. Photo taken by David McAlmont
June 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
Dream Machine, Southbank and a Sea of Burroughs. ‘Mona Lisa Smiles’ is Released and the Thames is Calling
November 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s been a while since our last blog and there’s so much to talk about! Firstly… we’re delighted to be special guests at the Xmas Boat Party by our dear friend Klarita of Kaparte Promotions, with the fabulous Ernesto Tomasini as a DJ and in the fine company of R in Parenthesis (Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo’s solo project) on the London leg of his Winter European tour. Fabrizio has worked with David Tibet, Little Annie, Matmos, Xiu Xiu and Ernesto himself to name a few!
Join us on December 7th for this very special date at the Ship of Fools Club and it’s set to be Raf and O’s last gig of this year!
Last month, O and I got to perform at the Queen Elizabeth Hall! Part of the Literature Festival on the Southbank, the ‘gonzo gala cut-up evening’ to celebrate 100 years of William S Burroughs was masterminded by the one and only musician/ actor Richard Strange. A tremendous event, we were incredibly honoured to perform alongside a brilliant cast of musicians, actors and writers including Bill Nelson, Sarah Jane Morris, The Doctors Of Madness, Anni Hogan, David Coulter with Seb Rochford, Rupert Thompson, the original Black Rider band and Gavin Bryars. All performed and/or presented new material. The spectacular ending saw “a procession of WSB guitarists descending from the audience” and a sea of Burroughs (UV fluorescent WSB masks, which were handed out to the audience in the break) loomed large.
In darkness we mounted a drum riser, which was rolled to the front of the stage. The lights came on and Raf and O performed ‘Dream Machine’, our Gysin/ Burroughs inspired piece to a packed, attentive, house!
A real thrill and a show to remember in so many ways, a massive thanks to Richard Strange for asking us to be part of it! And thanks to the people who took part, the crew, the audience and all who supported the event.
Another special thanks go to the brilliant journalist David Stubbs who has been regularly supporting us in the last few months. Very thankful for his words.
“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
Thanks to Christina Jansen photography (http://www.cjansenphotography.com) who captured splendidly the whole event. See photos below.
Futher thanks goes to Peter Cook who wrote “Simply superb Raf and O, a new talent which must be seen” and Steve Ash “The duo Raf and O followed with some more Burroughsian music entitled Dream Machine bringing the show back to its high quality musical base”. Very sadly, Steve passed away shortly after the show and more recently, Stoner, the bass player from The Doctors Of Madness (who had re-united for this show after 36 years) has also left this Earth.
RIP Steve and Stoner
Following on from the QEH, Richard invited us to return to the legendary Cabaret Futura and we’ve recently played a live set in the very lovely settings of Battersea Barge, supporting Robinplayschords who has just released his debut single. A 12″ version which also features a remix by Raf and O will be out early in the new year.
In the meantime we’re really happy to announce our latest musical work and contribution to this excellent release of remixes and reconstructions. ‘My God It’s Full Of Stairs’ on Mark Beazley’s beautiful own label Trace Recordings is OUT NOW! It features Raf and O’s ‘Mona Lisa Smiles’, a five and a half minutes rework and reconstruction (with added vocals and instrumentation) of BLK TAG’ s album ‘A Distilled + Debilitating Loneliness’. It also features works from Rothko, Gagarin, Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo, BLK w/BEAR and many others! You can now listen and grab yourself a copy HERE!
The Quietus Reviews ‘Time Machine’. Interviews / Session on Resonance FM, Ableton Live Expert + Feature on FACT.
May 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
May and June to be greetings!
We’re very honoured to have recently featured in The Quietus with an excellent review of our latest album ‘Time Machine’ by legendary music journalist David Stubbs:
‘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’
David Stubbs, The Quietus
FACT Magazine have listed Raf and O’s ‘Squeezebox’ as one of the 36 best indietronica tracks! Taken from “Has The Air Gone Walking” debut 10” vinyl alongside Gagarin from 2008; to be on this fine selection we are indeed extremely pleased.
‘Superbohemian, super kooky…the sort of record that makes it feel like John Peel is still alive’
Joe Muggs, Fact Magazine
This month we’ve done a few interviews: Shout 4 music popped us some Q&A’s and we’ve also been featured on the Ableton Live Expert website with a video interview and a live in the studio performance of ‘Mad And Brilliant from the ‘Time Machine’ album. Martin Delaney came to film us and we spoke briefly about our Live set up. It was bright, fun to do and here it is!
Meanwhile on the gig front, since launching our album at the fabulous Shoreditch Church (featured on David Bowie Official – see previous blog) we returned to Scaledown, where O’s bass made a rare appearance, closely followed by our very first gig in a record shop at Vinyl in Deptford, where we were bathed in psychedelic visuals courtesy of Punkvert VJs for the new Psyche Satyrday.
And to cap off the month, we popped into Resonance FM for a Live Radio Session on the excellent Dexter Bentley Hello Goodbye Show. Thoroughly enjoyed it! You can catch the podcast HERE where we are performing material from our latest album: You Made Me’,’Saturated Dreams’, ‘Lady Grinning Soul’and ‘The Fog’ with an interview.
Raf and O’s newly released LP ‘Time Machine’ is a hauntingly atmospheric, Folktronica masterpiece’
Dexter Bentley, Resonance FM
Our new ‘Time Machine’ Album and EP are available on the Bandcamp Page. Please support these independent releases by getting your copies HERE!
Raf and O
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