Raf and O are a South London electro thee piece consisting of vocalist Raf Mantelli, bassist Richard Smith and percussionist and programmer Graham Dodwell.
Despite experimenting with sounds and beats they reign themselves in well on this record and actually create a very minimalistic bed of sound which allows Raf Mantelli’s haunting and atmospheric vocals to really shine through. And make no mistake, she is without question, the star of this show. She has as perfect a voice for this genre as anyone and it is something that is frequently used to great effect.
In terms of song writing, the thing which sets them apart from many other bands of this type, is that they are not afraid to throw a hint of pop into the mix as well. It is a quality that has drawn comparisons to giants like Portishead and (early) Bjork. Never is this more evident than on ‘Orbiting Sunshine’ or ‘Through The Length’ which both have pop melodies expertly sung over, as always, a minimal soundscape.
Elsewhere the title track and ‘Go Find Another Planet’ sound like they could be soundtracks to the most bizarre of your dreams such is the surreal atmosphere they create.
There are one or two underwhelming moments here too, though and you might find yourself skipping the odd track. ‘Overspill’ for example, feels like exactly that, but the good moments heavily outweigh the bad and it remains an enjoyable listen.
Although ‘A Giant In The Snow’ does not really bring anything new to it’s genre, and it certainly will not render your Portishead records obsolete, it will sit very nicely beside them as a worthy addition to the record collections of fans of minimalistic electro bands.