January 25, 2012
Review: Porcelain Raft – ‘Strange Weekend’
Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend
There’s no escaping it: it’s 2012, and we are living in a post-chillwave society. We all suffered its infectious smog of synths; its occasional gem and its never-ending knock-offs; its knowing glances towards ‘70s AOR and over-abuse of tape compression; and we all survived. Yet now we must deal with its aftermath, and, straight off the bat for the New Year, here’s Porcelain Raft.
Mauro Remiddi’s one-man band project may be familiar to those who got hold of 2010 blog favourite ‘Tip of Your Tongue’ (endearingly phrased “teep of your tonne” in Remiddi’s pan-European accent), and now Porcelain Raft return with a full-length debut that pulls from the hundreds of demos and travel-inspired ditties penned by its creator, whittling them down into a lean 35 minutes entitled Strange Weekend.
The Porcelain Raft vibe is definitively airy (indeed Air-y on occasion). Remiddi’s androgynous Elizabeth Fraser-type vocal style seems intentionally detached and off on travels of its own, while sepia toned arrangements swim beneath it. We’re definitely dealing with the ‘dream-pop’ (bleurgh) end of the chillwave spectrum, which is a shame, because there are some pretty decent tunes hidden under the reverb.
There is certainly a wide variety of range here in song writing approach, from pleasant acoustic strum (‘Shapeless & Gone’, ‘Put me to Sleep’) to peppy electro-pop (‘Is It Too Deep for You?’). ‘Backwords’ cranks up the sentimental schmaltz levels, revisited on closer ‘The Way In’, but it’s the pastiche collage of ‘The End of Silence’ that really impresses. Emotive washes of vocal sit resplendently atop a mid-tempo Spector girl group beat; the Cocteau Twins returning once again to cast their influence over everything in-between.
As alluded to above, the Italian-born Remiddi is well travelled, and the sense of movement on Strange Weekend is strong from the off: this is music to listen to while gazing from a train window. He plays on the emotion of motion, without the usual signifiers of fast tempos or pulsing, driving rhythms. Opener ‘Drifting in and Out’ is perhaps the best example of this; phasing in like a horizon coming into view and referring – lyrically and musically – to escape and the freedom afforded by constant movement.
Remiddi has more to offer than the average reverb-laden bedroom artist, and tracks like ‘Picture’ – by far the catchiest thing here – prove he has a more than decent pop song in him if he could only tone down the washed out production style of Washed Out et al. Strange Weekend is an adequate stopgap in the meantime.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON