Blackest Ever Black’s Raime on Conveying Aggression Without Distortion

Although their distortion-laced creations once made Raime the perfect outfit to kick off the Blackest Ever Black label, the young London duo bravely streamlined the moody sound for their latest LP, Tooth. This week on RBMA Radio’s First Floor, the pair speaks with Shawn Reynaldo about taking stylistic cues from ’90s post-rock and post-hardcore.

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When I listened to the new record, I heard a lot of sounds that reminded me of ’90s and even older rock and post-rock and post-punk bands. A lot of ’90s Touch and Go stuff. I was thinking about Unwound and Slint and even some slow-core bands like Codeine. Are those total reaches or are those sounds that you guys listened to at all?

Joe Andrews

No, you’re pretty good. Music discovery is a big part of how we try and work out what we’re going to do next. We found those kind of bands. We started with Shellac, really. Steve Albini in general is a touch point for the way we produce records. We saw a few similarities in how stripped back they were, how raw the sound is and how clean the sound is. I’m making reference to that with certain dance music that we knew. We found a similar way – basically, just incredibly minimal. We’d never really got into those bands before, and it was just exciting to go back to that era and listen to it all and see how that feeds into your own appreciation. Obviously, bands like Fugazi as well. Within a certain group of people they’re huge bands, but for us, there’s always areas which we don’t know about and that was one that we got really excited about and really interested in.

It’s interesting that you mentioned Fugazi, because there’s one song on the record called “Hold Your Line,” and I think it might be the only one that I could hear some kind of little vocal snippet in there. I was like, “That kind of sounds like Ian MacKaye.” I’m sure it’s not. Maybe it is and you’re sampling?

Tom Halstead

It’s not.

It definitely had a post-hardcore vibe to this tiny vocal snippet.

Joe Andrews

I’m glad it did, because that was the intention, really. The idea behind what we tried to do with this record is make things feel a bit more... Live’s the wrong word, but we wanted to impact. We coined this strange term for it, which is called “on the front foot,” which is being forceful or attacking and going for things. The first record is very deep, very interior, very cerebral. It was much more about us trying to paint this picture of a world that we created, and in this one we actually wanted to make it feel like it’s a bit more proactive. The first one felt like you were looking into the past or over a passage of time. With this one, because we started getting into that kind of band, we wanted it to feel like the music was happening as you were listening to it, which may sound a bit silly, but that’s kind of what we meant.

Tom Halstead

You said earlier you didn’t hear distortion and drone in this record. When you don’t use those elements, when you’re trying to get across immediacy or aggression, if you’re not going to use distortion or a visceral thing like that than a vocal jab is really important.

Joe Andrews

So we saw the attack within what Tom was talking about and within the live element, the attack of that. We kind of referenced it to the dance music that we love as well. We love grime and garage and jungle. Especially in grime, there’s a very immediate, exhilarating “attackness” of the sounds. The harsh snares and the big basslines. We were trying to find ways to put these influences together in a way that we felt perhaps hadn’t been approached before. I’m not saying that what we’re doing is revolutionary but our attitude was at least to try and be like, how can we take these two things that we think relate to each other, but we’re not sure how they do, and try and fashion a language out of both of those ideas? There’s a lot of bass on the record. Clear, sub, powerful bass, which is put with guitars, and yeah, it took a long time to get that balance right, but it’s kind of fun doing it.

By Shawn Reynaldo on June 9, 2016

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