Raiments are a Berlin-based avant garde musical collective, the brainchild of lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mano Camatsos.
The group’s debut LP In Painting showcases a sonically omnivorous appetite at work. Incorporated here are subtle touches of worldbeat instrumentation laid generously over rhythmic beds that hint at shared fascinations with krautrock and free jazz experimentation. Whereas these archetypes can often lend themselves to unwieldly odysseys of extended dissonance, soloing or directionless jamming in other, less focused groups, Raiments avoid this common pitfall with grace. Indeed, their forays into unorthodox rhythmic forms are tastefully restrained, making them all the more impressive and welcome for it. To wit – the longest track on the album clocks in at just under 3:30, indicating a clear and careful control of composition with superfluous details eschewed wherever possible to get closer to the savory marrow of each track.
The tightness of the instrumental arrangements provides the perfect nest for Camatsos’ unique vocal interpolations of beatnik Dadaist-style poetics and alternately whimsical and brooding melodies. There is a refined and challenging aspect of psychedelia here that speaks to lyrics written for an apparent simplicity that belies their intentional depth. To be sure, the meditations recounted in songs like Colors Don’t Exist and Face Like A Triangle (the latter a surprising earworm that I find myself returning to repeatedly) capture a sense of urgency and anxiety that is difficult to ignore. One is left with the certainty that there are layers of depth here that could take several listens to unravel.
In summation, In Painting reflects a collection of influences drawn from the globetrotting life of its authors that tell a story all their own. It’s a potentially challenging record, given its purposeful resistance to more mainstream or contemporary musical forms, yet it succeeds in marrying experimentation with approachability in a manner that is often pursued, but rarely executed successfully. I remain enthusiastic to hear what Raiments have in store next.B.Haack
Brian Haack is a freelance music journalist and critic living in Los Angeles, Calif. He currently writes for grammy.com. All views and opinions expressed are his own.