Kaparte Promotions presents:
Raf and O – ‘Portal’ ALBUM LAUNCH
With special guest Robert Logan
Friday 22 July, 8pm
St. James the Less, Pimlico, SW1V 2PS
Raf and O AKA Raf Mantelli and Richard Smith (O) release their third full length album ‘Portal’ on Telephone Records.
Garnering widespread acclaim in the UK / Europe since their first 10’’ EP release in 2008, the two piece band from South East London have created a buzz with exciting performances of their unique detailed avant-pop, fusing electro/ acoustic drums, self-made triggers, pads, samplers, vocals, synths and acoustic guitar bathed in effects.
Supporting artists such as Faust, Little Annie Bandez, they were special guests in Richard Strange’s production for William S. Burroughs centenary in the grand settings of Queen Elizabeth Hall, they were praised by Bowie’s pianist Mike Garson for their unique interpretation of Lady Grinning Soul and following a live BBC session, performed at the legendary Beckenham Free Festival Remake (Memory Of A Free Festival 2013/ 2014) and featured on David Bowie Official. In 2014 Raf and O launched their second album ‘Time Machine’ at Shoreditch Church to wondrous press acclaim.
It made Top 10 albums of 2014 picked by Joe Muggs on FACT Magazine.“The excellent Time Machine represents the very antithesis of EDM – There is a butterfly, acoustic delicacy 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” David Stubbs, The Quietus.
Recently Raf and O were invited to celebrate Bowie’s life with a performance at the Union Chapel and composed music for the theatre play ‘That Woman’s Voice’ a Tribute to Jean Cocteau and The Human Voice’ staged at Camden Fringe Festival.
The follow up to ‘Time Machine’ still features the electro acoustic soundworld of Raf and O; Raf’s songwriting, haunting, magnetic vocals, frenetic, gentle yet intense style of dark guitar picking intermingles with O’s electroacoustic drums through sonic soundscapes, synths and sound re-shaped and manipulated by the two of them. ‘Portal’ continues the narrative of time travel, although, where ‘Time Machine’ presented reflections, dreams and projections into future possibilities, their new album pushes a door into the past, questions the real and the imagined via a sound world of spaciousness, tinged in sinister shades. It articulates their journey of the last two years, a series of connections, discoveries and dreams, seeming at times to tune in with the people who passed, leaving a mark into this world and unto our consciousness.
From the spiralling 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 Raf and O have set music to Shakespeare; here, a haunting melody is underpinned by hypnotic guitar lines and interjections of underwater bells, gongs and ghostly choirs. From the vaults steeped in reverb and spoken world of ‘Automatons’ inspired by a journey to the Strasbourg Cathedral, to the autumnal sound of ‘Drunk’ where 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’ where the pair remould Washington based sound artists Blk Tag’s source material, by augmenting the palette and shaping its harmony into song; here Leonardo’s subject comes to life in unexpected ways; themes of identity, desires and imagery emerge. From the fast insistent pulses of the fully electronic ‘Echolocation’ to the repetitive grooves of ‘Worms’, slowly building and snaking throughout the track.
From the narcotic effect of ‘The Deadliest Flower’, to ‘Neurons’, an enchanting, unfolding journey, painting pictures, science meets nature meets longing, then ‘Magic’ brings the album to a close, a spell that’s dispelled, was it all a dream, a projection of the dream machine?
A split EP between themselves and their collaboration with Emmy nominated electronicist and Grace Jones’ collaborator Robert Logan will also be released. The three spent a series of sessions working closely in the same space, concocting a deconstructed and layered amalgamation of song, electronic sounds, dense atmospheres and organic instruments, textures and further exploration of fragmentation.
The Album launch is in London, 22nd July 2016 at St James The Less, Westminster, promoted by Kaparte.
Raf Mantelli – Vocals, ‘Star’ acoustic guitar, synths, electronics.
Richard Smith (O) – Electro/ acoustic drums & DIY triggers, synths, electronics.
Robert Logan is an electronic composer and producer. His collaborations includes Grace Jones, Brigitte Fontaine, Raf and O, Steve Roach and Skye (Morcheeba).
Robert’s music is an intelligent fusion of influences from folk, medieval and classical to krautrock and electronica. He blends acoustic and electronic instruments and sound sources including voices and field recordings, and he has developed an intuitive and fluid use of digital production tools through which he squeezes, teases and shapes this material.
His first album ‘Cognessence’  prompted an array of rave reviews and support. Still only 19 at the time he was described as “something of a prodigy”. A second album ‘Inscape’ and a clutch of EP’s garnered yet more praise. He has been Emmy nominated and in 2015 Logan has released a third album ‘Flesh’, receiving accolades from the likes of Clash, Dj Mag, Igloo to name a few. Part of Robert Logan’s collaboration with Raf and O will be released on a split EP on June 27th. “Loganʼs finally back and heʼs certainly just as striking.” [DJ Mag]