Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead are London-based duo Raime. The pair debuted under the name in summer 2010 with their self-titled EP, which, evidently, was the first 12” release for their spiritual label home Blackest Ever Black. The three-tracker, however, wasn't their first contribution to the label: just before it dropped, Andrews and Halstead put out a limited-edition CD-R mix titled You Can’t Hide Your Headcrack.
These aforementioned releases provided the first taste of the duo's singular sound and, along with the subsequent EPs—If Anywhere Was Here He Would Know Where We Are, The Three Chambers Of Our Entities / Living In The Gaps We Cannot Jump, and Hennail—and the duo’s debut LP, Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, they have manufactured an aesthetic for both themselves as artists and the imprint.
But recent years have seen a considerable decrease in the duo's output: the only addition to their discography since their 2012 debut LP has been the Moin EP via their Moin side-project. However, both of these releases indicated a shift towards live instrumentation, something that Andrews and Halstead developed further during this quiet period—and it is the fruits of these labors that reveal themselves throughout their brilliantly conceived forthcoming LP, Tooth.
From opening cut, “Coax,” it’s clear that Raime has refined and sharpened its sound into a more futuristic and synthetic palette. Pulling back on the doom-laden drones and reverb-drenched atmospheres, the duo place haunting strings and guitars at the forefront—it’s Raime through and through, but with a stealthy, unwavering edge.
On “Dead Heat,” the duo utilize soundsystem-like bass, winding guitar riffs, and snarling stabs for a tough-as-nails outing that channels the pure anarchism of post-punk. The winding guitar riffs continue throughout the album, mutating slightly with every turn as the underbelly of each track morphs. “Hold Your Line” and “Front Running” touch on grime’s wide-open, skeletal framework, interspersing sub-bass and spacious strings with neck-snapping percussion.
Plenty of Tooth, especially its second half, evokes a tech-noir soundtrack: bleak, alien, and emotionally-drenched. “Dialling In, Falling Out” and “Glassed” offer somewhat of a breather from the ferocity of the first half, albeit a haunted one. The pairing of “Cold Cain” and “Stammer” close the LP in a fitting manner: both employ very similar guitar licks that wind their way in and out of each track, building intensity to a dystopic finish.
Tooth is best devoured as a whole and without distractions; its singular sound and delivery is one that Raime has tirelessly honed into a steadfast concoction of brooding dystopia.
Tooth will be released via Blackest Ever Black on June 6, with the album available to pre-order here.