Raime has been a constant point of contention since releasing their first material on Blackest Ever Black back in 2010. The duo is easier defined by their sense of atmosphere and tactility rather than an allegiance to techno or ambient music. Demdike Stare is an obvious reference point, but Raime has more in common with clanging golden age industrial music, serrated post-punk, and the impending march of funereal doom metal than their dub and mysticism-inclined countryman. The comparison is still an obvious one. Raime makes ceremonial music befitting bad dreams and the specters that dwell deep within shadows. Their earliest material was almost self-aggrandizing in its bookishness and alienating in its stubbornness, with a pointed artfulness simliar to someone like The Haxan Cloak. The duo’s debut LP, Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, doesn’t compromise their sound or vision, but it creates a space that’s easier to occupy and explore and the results are breathtaking.
Quarter Turns Over A living Line locks its tonal and textural pallet early. It’s a pretty organic affair, as far as electronic music goes, full of dying machine textures, suffused squalls of recorded white noise, whiney stringed instruments, and rusted, out of tune guitars, but it touches on the organo-synthetic nature of early dark ambient outfits like Zoviet France. It’s more apocalypse-ravaged metropolis than rustic haunted house, as if you’re standing in an ash covered apartment, beams of a few faulty lights outside carved into thick bars on the wall by the horizontal blinds. The setting distinction might be irrelevant. Still, the record’s detailed atmosphere is one of Quarter‘s strongest suits. Its sense of place and emotion is vivid and stark, which gives it an edge over the glut of ambient, techno, and industrial-intersecting releases this year.
Quarter‘s rhythms might separate it from the conversation surrounding those aforementioned releases though. There’s touches of UK bass and techno here and there, but Raime approach these tracks without genre signifiers in mind, instead building and pushing only at the pace each track requires. Quarter most often dirges around its buzzing, tangle of textures instead of pulsing or 2-stepping. “The Last Foundry” deploys a shivering, wood-scraping-against-wood loop early on in place of a hi-hat and rides the rest of the track with a stretched kick and snare, both making the whole universe quaver each time they impact. The drums are more than textural, helping tracks coalesce and subside, but the focus is still on the slowly unfolding sonic plane beneath.
“Soil and Colts” settles around a marching 4/4 like a deadman’s footsteps coming up the stairs. A monolithic basso drone holds still beneath little barbs of guitar and violin while creased soporific drones echo like distant ghostly voices into a fog shrouded emptiness. “The Walker in Blast and Bottle” sidles along with a hallow, bug-eyed synth loop while crumbling impacts like far off asteroid collisions reverberate into an oncoming spill of howling drones. Standout, “Your Cast Will Tire” is a slow, hyper-rhythmic cumulation of jagged, bent sheet metal textures, a brushfire of guitar feedback, and continually added drum sounds rising like a long slumbering nightmare rising to wakefulness, each downward stroke booming outward in thick sonic ripples while malevolent drones steadily circle.
Quarter Turns Over A Living Line is slowly and carefully constructed and its pleasures lie within the a more ambient realm, but it’s more than a mood piece. The album is spacious and ornate and alive with feeling (rather than just being a grabbag of 80s influences), but there’s a drive and backbone to these tracks that give it a weight and tone that justify doom metal comparisons. It’s bizarre and captivating stuff. With Quarter Turns Over A Living Line Raime fleshes out the promise of earlier work and delivers one 2012’s most compelling and listenable experimental records.