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All Things Raf and O

Raf and O, single, on the road and with a Giant new baby due

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by Paul Hawkins, for outsideleft.com
originally published: May, 2010
a groovy acoustic feel; snaking whispery vocals, almost trance-like melodies
by Paul Hawkins, for outsideleft.com
originally published: May, 2010
a groovy acoustic feel; snaking whispery vocals, almost trance-like melodies

I got to hear some new stuff from South London band Raf and O. Taken from their new album, A Giant in The Snow ( GEO017 - out May 24th) on GEO records, Through The Length is a beautiful slice of Raf and O at their most powerful. On this digital download single there are mixes from Gagarin, Robert Logan and the album mix. Mellowdubmarine also mix Go Find Another Planet, another evocative track from the album.

The Gagarin mix goes pop, spinning the spun out vocals of Raf Mantelli into a heartfelt and tender plea. Passionate in content, vibrant in context, "You touch me, you touch me deep" is the opening line. The track builds on light touch percussion, shiftshaping Raf's haunting melody throughout.

Electronicist Robert Logan steps up the vibe whilst pulling apart the track into a skittering shower of typewriter rhyming dots and flecks, vocals float in and out of the undergrinding percussion until the track jumps right out of the speakers like a dolphin tripping the pull of gravity, bursting into the night air out of the green sea swell. Awesomely dark remix from Logan.

The new album was produced by band members Raf and Richard and their album mix has a groovy acoustic feel; snaking whispery vocals, almost trance-like melodies, inflections of a sugar pop rush, short sharp jabs of sonics rise and swell throughout the song. Like the sound of tectonic plates shifting slightly, in an ecstatic embrace, rather than a grinding crushing collision. Melting ice cream, making lovers dream.

Mellowdubmarine bring a chilled feel to another outstanding track from A Giant in The Snow, Go Find Another Planet has a laid back sleepy REM state vibe that Richards flowing bass keeps movement in motion. Raf's la la la, la la la confirms that there is no added sweetener. This is the original flavour. Taste it!

Raf and O have been playing a slew of shows to promote their upcoming single and album. Both are due out in May. I made it to The Basement in Brighton to see them play for the first time. The Basement is plugged into the infamous Lanes and in a street with some breathtaking graffitti on the walls along its length. The venue was all subterranean bricks and pipes with grills over lights, a calm arts space with a distinctly ambient vibe to the band room. A simple set up, minimal lighting, seating cut into steps with cushions for comfort.

Raf and O switched on their machines and proceeded to play a potent set drawn mainly from their new album. The sound was good tonight and the 3 piece band came over with authority and a strong sense of direction. Raf, Rich and Dids triggered, tweaked and manipulated sounds; Dids excellent driving atmospheric percussion and grooves, Rich's laptop, keys, guitar/bass and Raf's Juno, MicroKorg and samples combined to drive the songs in graceful, yet powerful congruity. The songs threw out an elasticity borne out of this live manipulation. What also stood out was Raf's coaxing and teasing voice and when Rich sang in harmony with her, there was something very special about that perfect union. Sky and Go Find Another Planet from A Giant In The Snow were awesome, and they ended with new single Through The Length. It was just supreme. Sound angles swerving, balancing and bouncing off the walls. The band playing on instinct, grooving on the mesmeric guitar plucking and rhythmic rush. Raf singing with a big heart and stinging soul as it rose to a majestic pulsing crescendo and then, without warning, stopped dead. The silence was deafening. What a performance.

For more about Raf and O...

Myspace http://www.myspace.com/rafando 
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Raf-and-O/351335089117 

New album A Giant in The Snow (GEO017 - out May 24th) on GEO Records, available now from ITunes, Boomkat and other digital musical stores.

Through the length - GEO020 (GOE Records) digital download on Geo Records. http://www.myspace.com/georecordsuk

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»

Paul Hawkins

Paul Hawkins has been interested in popular culture and music, protest and survival for as long as we can remember. He began writing about things, making music and other noise at an early age. Paul has interviewed musicians, writers, poets, protestors and artists.

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