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!
Echoes and Dreams. From Beckenham Bowie to the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Raf and O join Richard Strange & the Doctors Of Madness to celebrate William S Burroughs
September 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Photos from live footage by Ashley Jones AKA The Chaos Engineers and Matt Lloyd
Beckenham, 16th August 2014, 1.10pm
Raf and O get ready to play on the bandstand. No rain this year, a tentative sun breaks in and out. It’s pretty early and the people are slowly meandering in; an attentive, compact and special crowd watches as the action begins. To celebrate the return onto the bandstand we launch into a rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Cygnet Committee’. It’s the first time we’re playing it, but it ‘s the perfect place to do it. Then a new song of ours, ‘Echoes’; again a totally fresh track, followed by songs from our latest album Time Machine including ‘Lady Grinning Soul’.
Special thanks go to David Stubbs, author of the latest book on Krautrock ‘Future Days’, the legendary music journalist, who recently reviewed us in the Quietus, came down to watch and hear us play. He later wrote something quite beautiful:
“Earlier today at the Memory Of A Free Festival in Beckenham – Raf Mantelli and O Richard Smith, aka Raf And O, playing an excellent set of their tremulous, exquisitely detailed avant pop to an appreciative audience, many of whom were locals who’d never heard the like but very much liked the like. This site, this very bandstand was where David Bowie played at the Beckenham Free Festival 45 years ago to the day in 1969” David Stubbs.
It was a privilege to perform once again on the Beckenham bandstand. Big thanks to Natasha Ryzhova, Mary Finnigan, Amory & Bill, Roger Wootton of legendary Comus, thank you for your words, honoured to share the stage, along with all artists and folks helping and working hard toward the Festival. Thank you to David Bowie for donating once again to the auction, Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey, Holy Holy etc. Details were announced on David Bowie Official website.
And a big thank you goes to Ashley Jones AKA The Chaos Engineers and Matt Lloyd for filming us in action. Here is a live footage of ‘Echoes’. Continues below.
‘Eyes closed, wild walls, wild thoughts, visions… so that I can dream, with the dream machine’ (from ‘Dream Machine’ by Raf and O)
Shoreditch, 28th August 2014, evening time.
O and I have come down to ‘Animals In The Walls’, the latest William S Burroughs and Burroughs inspired artists exhibition of original artworks, ‘so that we can dream with the dream machine’. Having written a song about it earlier in the year, inspired by watching the ‘Flicker’ documentary, now it was the time for the direct experience. And so it was. Richard Strange came down too and took part in the ritual. Eyes were positively open as regards to the rest of the exhibition. Running till the 7th. Wonderful to discover us on the Burroughs page too (see picture below).
It’s now just over one month before Raf and O will be joining the amazing Richard Strange and the Doctors Of Madness (who will be reforming for a single one-off performance) with a bill of wonderful artists in another radical celebration of William S Burroughs ‘Language is A Virus From Outer Space’. The World Premiere will be at London’s prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank on October 11th 2014, and will feature musical contributions from Richard Strange, Gavin Bryars, Doctors of Madness, Bill Nelson, Audrey Riley, Sarah-Jane Morris, Raf and O, Kate St John, Anni Hogan, David Coulter and Seb Rochford, Terry Edwards, Luca Silvestrini, the young musicians ensemble We Are Chidren. Gavin Turk, Haroon Mirza, Rupert Thomson and Jeremy Reed.
Raf and O X
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Memory of a Free Festival 2014, Fairywood + ‘Time Machine’ is one of this year’s Best Albums on FACT
July 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s July and as the sun infuses its energy upon us,
may this spread positives among us all!
In our musical world it’s been a really good year so far and continues to be so.
Raf and O’s new album ‘Time Machine has been selected as one of the best album of 2014 in FACT Magazine alongside Neneh Cherry and Rocketnumbernine in the Joe Muggs’s Top 10 Album list!!
We’re wonderfully blown away and very proud of this. Get yourself a copy of the CD Album HERE. Digital available in all good stores.
Some other wonderful news – Memory Of A Free Festival returns!
Raf and O have been invited to perform again at the re-run of the legendary Beckenham Free Festival organised by David Bowie and The Beckenham Arts Lab in 1969. On Saturday 16th August, Natasha Ryzhova Lau, with the help of some generous volunteers, is staging the event for a second year in a row, 45 years from the day and the date. Mary Finnigan, a key figure of the original festival is also involved and Roger Wootton from legendary Comus (who were playing weekly at the Arts Lab and played the Festival in ’69 ) will also take the stage. We’re thrilled to join all the artists, some of whom we met in 2013, we are opening up proceedings, see the LIVE page for full line up/flyer, location and transport details. Last year saw an audience of over 1000 people and £7000 pounds were raised towards the restoration of the Beckenham Bandstand; it was just wonderful despite a rain machine in full action; may the sun machine return safely to the Croydon Road Recreation Ground. Get there early, gates open 12.30, it’s only a fiver and there’s a beer tent this year too; we’ll be in action just after 1pm, don’t miss!
As well as the Beckenham Festival we’re really looking forward to perform at a new Festival in Brentwood, precisely Fairywood at Kelvedon Hatch, which used to be home to the secret nuclear bunker. The festival with its fairytale and thematic settings promises to be a magical gathering running on the weekend of the 9th and 10th August.
We will take the stage on the Sunday 10th, as the evening starts to fall. More info and tickets for the whole weekend or for the one day can be found HERE
And to cap it off we’ve recently been invited by the amazing Richard Strange to partake in a unique and very special William Burroughs inspired project at the Queen Elizabeth Hall planned for October, which will also see the Doctors of Madness reforming for a one off performance after 36 years! We are delighted and very honoured!! More details will be posted here in the very near future.
Raf and O x
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Images: Beckenham Bandstand graphic courtesy of Memory Of A Free Festival.
Photos of Raf and O performing at Memory Of A Free Festival in 2013 and on ”Time Machine’ session by Luigi Altilia.
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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April 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
Raf and O’s new full-length second album is OUT NOW!!!
Finally, we’re so proud to present Time Machine, self-released on Telephone, available on Bandcamp, iTunes and all good digital stores.
Latest press says:
“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 from bent out of shape Air meets folkloric avant-noir to ESG and Radiohead’s Hail To The Thief”
A special gig was staged at the beginning of the month to celebrate its release.
“She’s a tongue twisting storm, she will sing at the show tonight…”
David Bowie Official featured the launch for our new album.
We are absolutely thrilled !!!
“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 (http://smarturl.it/liveRAFnOlady)… Lady Grinning Soul is included on that new LP: Time Machine” David Bowie Official
The front cover captures Raf and O performing on the Beckenham Bandstand
GET IT HERE!
See picture to read in full. Continues below
We’d like to thank all who came down and once again Kaparte for the wonderful hosting.
More live performances are scheduled. Today we’re off to play at the ‘genuinely alternative after-office’ Scaledown. For more details, address etc, see our LIVE PAGE. Then next up is South East London in May; we shall be performing at Vinyl in Deptford. Details again will be added HERE.
Raf and O x
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Pictures by Angelique Le Marchand, Adam Donen and Lee Winter