Raime - Tooth DOLP
In the three and a half years since the release of Raime's debut album, Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, the duo and their label have come to represent a certain type of bleakness that's become common in electronic music in recent years. Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead have played a large part in Blackest Ever Black's identity. Their first album is a multi-faceted record of real quality, subtly suggesting a whole host of predecessors—from head-down dubstep to drone rock bands like Earth. Tooth is a step-change for the pair.
Quarter Turns had felt like closure in a way; it was the culmination of a sound Raime had been developing for three or four years. Tooth is the sound of a band—one already known for their minimalist approach—stripping their music back and starting again. Opening tracks "Coax" and "Dead Heat" highlight the chosen building blocks: a limited set of percussive samples, an airless drum kit of snare and hi-hat, ever-present sub-bass, flashes of monophonic synthesiser and dry, thin electric guitar. It's a spare, near-monochromatic palette, well fit for its immediate purpose. The result is an album that takes its lead from bands like This Heat and Ike Yard but boils their urgency down to a throbbing core of contemporary dread, all the propulsive rhythms tied up in knots.
The dub techno stab that punctuates "Dialling In, Falling Out" makes for a pleasant shift at the halfway point, reconfiguring the album's spatial and textural qualities. Anything could happen next. The listener waits—patient, anxious, tremulous—to hear what's about to unfold. It's a small change, a mere tweak of the inner mechanics, but it registers powerfully on the ear and, perhaps more importantly, on the mind.
If there's a disappointment here it's that the final three tracks don't quite build on that potential. By the time that familiar, insistent guitar re-emerges on "Cold Cain," it seems better to think of Tooth more as a single piece of music than an album of eight individual tracks. The atmosphere is so consistent, the pacing so uniform, the sounds created with such a defined set of instrumental sources, that all the pieces blur into one.
The album comes full circle with "Stammer," which works as a reprise of the second track, "Dead Heat." It sounds more frustrated here at the end, its formation of indivisible elements finally beginning to fray as it whips round—teeth gritted, fists balled—to find itself back at the beginning. Raime have never been an act to look to for deliverance. Tooth offers no way out. ( Ian Maleney )