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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August 10, 2016 § Leave a comment
Raf and O’s new album ‘PORTAL‘ on Telephone Records is OUT NOW!!
Available on CD and Digital via Bandcamp, iTunes and all good digital stores.
Watch the Official Video for ‘Sonnet 62’ with lyrics by William Shakespeare which was premiered on God Is In The TV Zine (see above)
Latest press says:
“The sublime new album by Raf and O is called ‘Portal’. It’s very difficult to choose highlights from such a consistently winning record”
“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
“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”
“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 (Win from ‘Young Americans’) 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”
“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”
GET THE NEW ALBUM HERE!
Raf and O Portal Album Launch. Photo © Peter Tainsh
The Launch at St James The less was a wonderful experience …. performing the album in its entirety, we were able to make the journey. Tons of thanks to the brilliant Klarita Kaparte for promoting a splendid night, Robert Logan for being the ‘special’ special guest and for his excellent set, Alan Pride for tons of support, thanks to the wonderful audience for being part of the journey, for the photos, the footage and for getting the album.The Portal leads somewhere ….
Ahead of the launch we did an extensive interview with Carya Gish exclusively for Kaparte Promotions. You can read the whole thing HERE:
In January we were all shaken by the news of David Bowie’s passing . Now that we had time to adjust, cannot think of a better way to honour him this summer than to return and join the line up for the Beckenham Bandstand renamed the Bowie Bandstand. The festival is and has always been in our hearts. Originally organised by Bowie and his friends from the Beckenham Arts Lab, The UK’s first Free Festival was on 16 August, 47 years ago and it coincided with the release of his first hit single Space Oddity. This Saturday, 13th August, we will all be celebrating him, the legacy of the Beckenham Arts lab and help to raise funds again at Bowie’s Beckenham Oddity AKA Memory of A Free Festival. The line up comprises of Malcolm Doherty, Daphne Guinness, Maggi Ronson, Raf and O, Phillip Rambow, Jona Lewie, Then Jerico, Amory Kane, Boe Huntress and a few others!
Mary Finnigan who originally organised the festival with David, will be signing copies of her recently published book Psychedelic Suburbia and we’re honoured to have a mention “Most impressive were Raf and O, a talented avant-garde duo influenced by David Bowie but no copycat.” Mary Finnigan, Psychedelic Suburbia. The event organiser Wendy Faulkner says “After the devastating news of David’s death in January we felt we had to do a tribute for him — and there’s no more fitting place to do this than the bandstand where he played in 1969”. The Bowie Archive has donated another item signed by him plus other items will be available at the auction. Generously supported by DavidBowie.com , Tony Visconti and Iggy Pop.
The festival starts at 1pm, Croydon Road Recreation Ground, Beckenham.
See the whole press release/ line up as featured on David Bowie Official on our LIVE PAGE
See you there!
Raf and O xx
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Commencing Countdown © Gaz de Vere, All rights Reserved
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
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!