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The Ray Mann Three


Sat 17 Nov 2012, 8:00pm

Where: The Pelican Playhouse, 81 Through Street, South Grafton, Grafton Area


The Ray Mann Three returns to Australia to celebrate the release of long-awaited second album, Sketches, with an Australian tour.

Since relocating to Berlin in 2011, Sydney-born musician and visual artist Ray Mann has been busy: sharing stages with Lauryn Hill and Aloe Blacc in Europe; selling out shows on The Ray Mann Three’s Australian tour in February 2012 (including an unannounced Sydney solo show which sold out in ten minutes); and recording his second album (and personally creating all its music videos) via an innovative social media collaboration called The Sketches Project.

Change happens. Sometimes it’s welcomed, sometimes feared. And sometimes, when life changes around you, you choose to change right back. In a few short years, a lot changed in Ray Mann’s life.

The Sydney musician, born to Egyptian parents, released his debut album The Ray Mann Three (2008). The minimal, low-fi, classic-sounding-but-forward thinking soul record gained attention in big places: tour supports with names like Al Green, Tori Amos, Jamie Lidell and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings; performances in Australia, New Caledonia and Japan to thousands; a nationally-televised live show on ABC TV’s Live At The Basement.

Then suddenly, some unwelcome changes came. Everything fell apart – band, management, personal life – and with them went Ray’s desire to continue to make music altogether. In mid-2011, Ray relocated to Berlin. In September of that year, from his bedroom in the city’s vibrant artist district, he quietly launched an innovation: The Sketches Project.

Rather than go through these changes alone, Ray decided to let his audience in – and, via online dialogue between artist and fans, Ray invited his audience to collaborate with him as, over the next 12 months, he created new music and video art in response to his questions about “Change”.

The large-scale yet intensely personal project has generated a large amount of online content at – and now it has also resulted in The Ray Mann Three’s second album, Sketches. Recorded between Sydney and Berlin, with audience input, Sketches reveals changes in The Ray Mann Three’s sound too. The minimal drums / bass / guitar sound has been augmented with synthesisers, percussion, and a more expansive cast of vocal characters. Ray’s uniquely intimate voice features over a broader range of styles: from doo-wop lullabies to garage rock; from percussive chants to electronica; but all within the low-fi, organic aesthetic that is at the heart of Ray Mann’s sound.