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
October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
It was one year this month since Richard Strange staged ‘Language Is A Virus From Outer Space’, a multimedia celebration of William S Burroughs at Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank.
Raf and O were invited as special guests alongside a stellar cast and we outed our latest version of ‘Dream Machine’ to a full house! The whole event was extraordinary ending with a sea of Burroughs…; great memories, a wonderful space-time! (see last year’s blogs here and here )
Mitra Music For Nepal is now released and as mentioned before Raf and O present a previously unreleased original track ‘With Fatzer’ (featuring piano/ vocals & electronics) alongside other artists and legends including, Sakamoto, Wolfang Flur, Scanner, The The, Nick Cave and Anni Hogan. Hogan, pianist extraordinaire and Marc Almond’s collaborator has painstakingly put together this wonderful project. Now you can get to hear it and if you haven’t bought the compilation yet, do it, you can get it here or many other digital outlets (all proceeds go to charity).
Talking about timings, this coming Saturday (October 24th) we’re once again sharing a bill with Anni Hogan, also Autorotation and Robinplayschords (who we’ve recently remixed for his 12″ release ). Full line up and details on the live page and on the flyer below. Really looking forward to join all and return to the stylish settings of The Ivy House, a little gem on local ground, South London, a Kaparte Oxjam and a charity event, don’t miss!
All details and tickets available here.
Photo of The Ivy House by Klarita Pandofi Carr
In summer we were commissioned to provide sound design and music for a new play, a tribute to Cocteau. Premiered at Camden Fringe, ‘That Woman’s Voice’ was devised/ performed by Simona Continente and directed by Klarita Pandolfi Carr. O did the live tech and lights and together we wrote the music.
It was a priviledge to be a part of the play and to imagine and externalise the inner turmoil of Simona’s character through sound and music. A great experience!
Simona Continente at ‘That Woman’s Voice’. Photo by Raf Mantelli
Thanks to Scaledown for inviting us to perform last month, a really enjoyable night at the one and only King and Queen in the heart of London town.
“Aesthetically stunning and sonically astounding ….it’s Raf and O.” Scaledown aka The Orchestra Pit.
Londoners and South Londoners alike, get yourselves to The Ivy House this coming week-end! See you there!
Raf and O x
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June 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
March 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
Our first blog of 2015!
A heartfelt thank you to those who contributed in making 2014 a truly meaningful year in the world of Raf and O. You can time machine your way back via our blogs and trace elements and people in our journey, reviews and photographs of the shows we had the pleasure and the fortune to be part of: these included the majestic settings of Shoreditch Church, David Bowie’s Memory Of A Free Festival and Language is A Virus at Queen Elizabeth Hall!
But fear not, as more is happening this year! As we’re beavering away, working towards our next musical adventures, we thought it was about time to surface and keep you posted on things.
“Live, I found this spellbinding to watch… The album like their performances suspends you between swoon and shudder: a fantastic release” Adrian Specs
In January, Raf and O were picked by Adrian Ainsworth as one of the musical highlights of the year for his Specs blogspot. Last year we received some great press, you can still find the album (Time Machine) and other releases on our Bandcamp page.
Time Machine vision. photo by Luigi Altilia. Continues below.
On the gigging front, after rocking the Boat Party last December with dear friend Klarita Kaparte, Ernesto Tomasini and R in parenthesis we kicked off the New year by joining friends in the beautiful creative space of I’Klectik gallery, London Waterloo. ‘Can You See Your Shadow?’ a fitting name for this cold Sunday of February, saw Raf and O perform on the bill alongside Madam, Jo Quail, the Soap Company DJ and Autorotation, who, together with Oil54 organised the event.
Both shows brought an attentive crowd and we’re grateful for the energy received; as much as we need isolation to create, just as much we yearn to connect once the work is done.
Extra thanks go to author Carya Gish for her compelling live review. Carya who is about to write her new book has chosen our ‘Strange’ to be part of her playlist alongside PJ Harvey and more.
“Raf and O’s songs seem to stand on the undefined border between dreams and nightmares, as if on the steps of a majestic but crumbling haunted mansion echoing with the ghosts of the past and the future…the singer’s demeanour is also interesting: petite and fragile in appearance as she clutches her red guitar, her steely stare and very slight twitches inspire respect and make her a compelling and disquieting performer…Industrial, trip-hop, free jazz, electronic, folk.” Miss Gish Blog.
Meanwhile, Richard Strange has informed us that works have begun on editing the film from last year’s William Burroughs event, at Queen Elizabeth Hall where Raf and O appeared as special guest with a live performance of Dream Machine. (See previous blog). We’re excited and we’ll keep you posted with the latest developments.
Expect more live shows soon and something different is also brewing for the summer. Dates will be posted on our Live page and of course Facebook and Twitter.
We cherish your support and attendance.
Raf and O x
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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!