Raf and O AKA Raf Mantelli and O Richard Smith return with their fourth album The Space Between Nothing And Desire released on the 31st of May (TSBNAD) on Telephone Records. Today we unveil the stark otherworldly video for the album’s lead track ‘A Bow To Bowie’. Here the duo pays respect to David Bowie with a haunting ode, subtle swelling bricolage of ghostly synths, tumbling acoustic notes and a bass drum that thuds like a heartbeat throughout. While Raf’s almost otherworldly almost jazz-like vocals spiral across the upper register with echoes of Kate Bush at her most avant-garde.
Over the years Raf and O have expressed their affinity with Bowie and took on the task to reinterpret some of his songs. ‘A Bow To Bowie’ was written in December 2016, Raf says: “I really wanted to write a song for David after his passing, but it took me a few months before I felt I could tackle it”. The album is available to pre-order now. ‘A Bow to Bowie’ and another new song ‘A Mechanical Ride’ will be available immediately upon pre-order of the album.
Having marked out their unique and widely acclaimed song and the sound world over the last decade, the South East London duo have released three widely acclaimed full-length albums to date (A Giant In The Snow 2010, Time Machine 2014, Portal 2016).
Amongst their explorations, they have set music to Shakespeare, composed music for theatre and with special collaborations under their belt, they’ve played venues such as Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Union Chapel. Recently establishing a side project ‘The Kick Inside’, an interpretative acoustic celebration of Kate Bush’s early albums performed entirely on vocals, piano, and double bass, Raf and O were also praised by Mike Garson, David Bowie’s pianist/ long-term collaborator for their unique interpretation of Bowie’s Lady Grinning Soul.
With ‘The Space Between Nothing And Desire’ the duo go in search of a new quest: where, or, what is the space between nothing and desire? The primal concept that makes the world go round, desire, is abstract and yet so tangible, juxtaposed to nothing, equally as baffling, as to truly imagine it, it is impossible. With these parameters forming their chart, the latest album captures the duo navigating a journey into the senses, into the longing and the belonging, featuring Raf’s distinctive and beautiful vocals delivering a haunting and soaring melodies throughout. From the off-kilter avant popness and detailed imagery of the album title track, to the post-dub sensibilities of ‘Anger’, from the otherworldly sensuality tinged in 50s futuristic sound of ‘Underwater Blue’ to the epic psychological journey of ‘Your Gazing Stare’ and to the warped carousel and downright catchiness of ‘A Mechanical Ride’.
The album also presents a haunting reinterpretation of a Scott Walker composition from his first album, ‘Such A Small Love’ which was first heard on the Scott Walker compilation for God Is In The TV Zine. Alongside Raf and O’s more familiar electro-acoustic world featuring vocals, electronics, synths, drums, and acoustic guitar, the pair introduce two tracks performed solely on acoustic piano, vocals (Raf) and guitar (O). Whilst in this “swapped role” mode, as generally O is on synths/ drums and Raf on guitar, they explore acoustic minimalism, creating a spectacularly enchanting world.
The Album launch is in London, 26th May 2019 at Servant Jazz Quarters, promoted by Kaparte