Old-school garage and grime from the dark side.
What does Dizzee Rascal have to do with Steve Albini? How does Fugazi relate to Geeneus? On Raime's second album, Tooth, the duo of Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead attempt to find out. The album explores an unlikely dialogue between post-hardcore and garage and grime (with, among other influences, some dub techno thrown into the mix). Tooth is rife with tense guitar lines, making the influence of post-hardcore easy to spot, but the presence of UK club music reveals itself more slowly and satisfyingly. "Most of the rhythm sections are based around grime and garage," Andrews and Halstead say below. "All the hats and snares on the 'off,' the basslines work in similar ways." "Hold Your Line" is a good example of this, especially if you speed the track up a bit—the way that brushed hats interplay with a throbbing bassline is pure garage. Tooth is the follow-up to Raime's well-received 2012 debut, Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, an album that established both the duo and Blackest Ever Black, the label it was released on, as significant new forces in experimental electronic music.
RA hosted the UK premiere of Quarter Turns at the Southbank Centre in London, and the evening showed how Andrews and Halstead have always thrived on duality. Their audiovisual performance in a seated auditorium was a measured exploration of pitch-black drones and bass-weight; later that night they DJ'd at Corsica Studios, dropping a set of tear-out hardcore and jungle. With this in mind, we suggest soaking up Tooth and then slipping on RA.528, an all-vinyl mix of garage and grime that's as likely to induce joy as it is dread.
What have you been up to recently?
Playing our first few live shows mainly, with lots of practice beforehand. It's a more traditional live setup, so we had to learn how to make that work, especially considering we've previously been largely studio-based electronic producers. It's been great and has given us a whole new perspective on performing, which we were looking for. Lots more energy and even more of a feeling that something can and will go wrong, which has been really refreshing.
The first show we did was in an incredible venue in Toronto for Unsound, a derelict power station on the harbour, the scale was insane. We think it was used as a set in the last Robocop movie but that might have been our imagination. Since it was the first time we'd performed this new live set, it was a pretty challenging place to start.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Mix was recorded at our home studio in London. Everything is from vinyl. First the mixes were done on 1210s, then touched up in the box. It was the usual scenario where you start in an orderly fashion and then end up with records covering the floor.
Could you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
It was basically an excuse to dig into the collection and pick out some of our favourite UK garage and grime from over the years. It's a style that we always keep up with and one that influenced the new album, so it felt like a good time. We played around with a few other ideas but in the end we just did what was enjoyable rather than anything too out there. We play this kind of thing out quite a bit but never really committed time to a proper recorded mix.
We've been collecting it for a long time now so our collection spans all the way from the early UK 4/4, speed garage, 2-step and grime, so there was quite a bit to choose from. There's obviously very varied styles in those genres but for this we wanted to keep it slightly on the darker side, so stuck to a certain tone that we've always been attracted to. We didn't want full on terror, there's plenty of straighter stuff in there, just some that were on the edge that still felt enjoyable to move through. The bounce of 2-step and 4/4 in particular is perfect for that slightly speedy London dread that we're such suckers for.
There was a four-year gap between your debut album and Tooth. Did it take some time to figure out the direction of the new record?
Yes, absolutely. There was lots of time spent trying different avenues out. We were pretty adamant that the record would be more singular and stripped this time around, but how that would actually incorporate some of the different styles we were interested in was much more uncertain. It took a long time to get the balance right. Playing around with fairly disparate influences is tricky, so it was a gradual process of trial and error.
You mentioned that the DNA of garage and grime are present in your new music. How exactly does this tend to show up in your tracks?
Most of the rhythm sections are based around grime and garage, really. All the hats and snares on the "off," the basslines work in similar ways. In fact, even some of the two-note guitar parts are influenced by the same synth-type parts in grime records. Both these styles of bass music have such satisfying percussion that we have always wanted to play around with. Our general admiration for the way that type of music affects the body has always been a constant between us, so it felt like a good idea to try and incorporate it somehow into our sound.
What are you up to next?
We have shows throughout the rest of the year and then we're back in the studio. The itch to get back making stuff doesn't stay away for long.