Release Date: Aug 20, 2013
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Permanent Signal, the new record from Mauro Remiddi (aka Porcelain Raft), is a thing of utter beauty. The songs often consist of the normal elements: drums, guitar, sampled noise and sounds, vocals, piano. But these compositions are so much more than dreary, run-of-the-mill post-rock specifications—each one is ornate, like a sculpture of varnished wood and brass.
Rather like Perfume Genius and Youth Lagoon, behind the mysterious pseudonym lies just one man and his bag of electronic trickery. Porcelain Raft is actually the Italian born producer and former member of Sunny Day Sets Fire, Mauro Remiddi, who created a mild buzz last year with the release of his understated debut album Strange Weekend. Permanant Signal continues the dream-pop template Remiddi laid down last time, but with a seemingly more ambitious slant this time round.
What a difference a year makes. Porcelain Raft's 2012 debut Strange Weekend resembled what might happen if MGMT fully gave in to the trend of chillwave, and the 2013 follow-up reflects a much colder time. You could think of this as the insular winter album that comes after a summer of fun. Mauro Remiddi mans the helm again, writing and composing all the music, but the setting has changed from his basement to the Antlers' studio, with Darby Cicci working the boards and playing bass, and Jonny Rogoff on drums.
Rome-born, but a citizen of London and New York, Mauro Remiddi is preoccupied with rootlessness and lost connections, but ‘Permanent Signal’ finds beauty in loneliness. It’s as bathed in electronics as last year’s debut, ‘Strange Weekend’, only this time members of Yuck and The Antlers – and a cellist – augment Remiddi’s vision, giving ‘Minor Pleasure’ a steadily intensifying rock build amid all the overlapping synths. Remiddi himself has a tremulous, feminine voice that works well on shoegazey tracks like ‘Night Birds’ and ‘Cluster’, but his real speciality lies in making the machine sound vulnerable and human.Matthew Horton .
Mauro Remiddi returns with his second full-length after last year's Strange Weekend. The title refers to a phone line that's off the hook (remember hooks?) without a connection for a long time, a stand-in for Remiddi's own inability to really connect with loved ones during a year on the road (what would second or third albums be without the rigors of the road?). Remiddi says that upon his return, he found himself inspired by those detached feelings (plus those of transitioning back to the workaday world), and ended up selling most of the instruments used to craft Strange Weekend.
Porcelain Raft’s second album in two years begins with the towering electronic slowcore gem “Think of the Ocean. ” The moments when Italian native Mauro Remiddi finishes a verse allow the production from Antlers’ bassist Darby Cicci and the shaking strings of cellist Gaspar Claus to cast a spell on the listener. From there, Remiddi’s strengths and weaknesses as a songwriter are slid under the microscope, as the aesthetic of his sophomore album, Permanent Signal, grabs but does not hold attention, but rather constructs an ornate stage for Porcelain Raft to perform upon.
When Porcelain Raft’s first singles started circulating in 2010, Mauro Remiddi distinguished himself from the glut of similarly wavy electro-pop acts on numerous levels; for one thing, “Tip of Your Tongue” and "Dragonfly" stood out for their craft as opposed to being mere coneyances of vibe. You could also sense that he was a veteran songwriter and you’d be correct. While many of his peers were young men trying to cultivate mystery through anonymity, Remiddi was in his mid-30s and became more interesting with every revelation about his actual life experiences.
On debut Strange Weekend, Porcelain Raft's Mauro Remiddi gave plenty of reasons to be excited about his future. "Drifting In and Out" and single "Unless You Speak From Your Heart" showcased an artist whose competent songwriting was bolstered by a knack for satisfyingly woozy production. The plaintive, simmering "Think of the Ocean" hinted at plenty of growth this time around, but, alas, a single can't carry an album.
Mauro Remiddi proved on debut album Strange Weekend that Porcelain Raft is a solo project capable of generating a heart-tugging milieu of shoegaze that hovers in a sonic stratosphere. Permanent Signal continues this high-minded perspective. But its destination is more ambiguous and its short length leaves many questions up in the air. “Think of the Ocean” sets the delicate tone for Permanent Signal with a reverberating, chopped-up frequency that mirrors noise drifting aimlessly through space and time, searching for an audience, or at least something material to reach out to.
“The way you begin it decides the way that you own it,” goes the first verse of ‘Think Of The Ocean’ – lead single and album opener of Porcelain Raft’s second album. Perhaps a reassurance to himself or more a statement of intent because, for Mauro Remiddi, ‘Permanent Signal’ is almost like starting over completely. Inspired by the feeling of detachment stemming from touring his first album ‘Strange Weekend’, Remiddi sold all of his former instruments in exchange for a singular modular synthesiser and an altogether less dense approach.
Mauro Remiddi, the Italian producer behind Porcelain Raft, said that he wrote ‘The Way Out’ – the lead single from his second album Permanent Signal - during Hurricane Sandy, inspired by how nature was able to survive amid human artifice, how “life can find a way”. On the face of it, such a sublime reference could hint to a hidden greatness or uplifting power running through his album, but instead Permanent Signal explores ideas of loss and feelings disconnectedness that Remiddi felt whilst on tour removed from family and friends. The result is a lyrically and musically quiet little piece that has you wishing he was around a stronger mobile signal.