Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
After spending over 20 years shelving his more experimental musical tendencies, Mauro Remiddi seems to have successfully found his niche in the guise of Porcelain Raft. After a handful of independent releases and one label-backed EP, the Italian-born singer-songwriter has cultivated a worthy full-length debut in Strange Weekend, an album of beautifully woozy bedroom pop. Recorded over two months spent in a Brooklyn basement, it bleeds in ethereal loops, underwater-washed melodies and floating effects, establishing a sense of suspended consciousness, like a hospital patient desperately fighting his way out of a coma.
Checking the liner notes of Porcelain Raft's debut album Strange Weekend reveals that Mauro Remiddi recorded all the music and vocals in a Brooklyn basement during a two-month span. If you didn't see that, you could probably guess…at least about the basement part. Remiddi's sound is very insular and bathed in reverb and effects, yet still intensely personal and vaguely confessional.
From Antony Hegarty to Hayden Thorpe, it’s fair to say that a distinctive vocal can polarise opinion. But, while the supremely androgynous tones of [a]Porcelain Raft[/a] (aka Mauro Remiddi) are so delicate they could be administered as an anti-Vaccines vaccine, ‘Strange Weekend’’s gauzy dream-pop is almost incapable of provoking anything but love. Floating between nostalgic Ariel Pink-isms and M83-recalling pop sensibilities, the dappled semi-psychedelia of ‘Shapeless & Gone’ or ‘Unless You Speak From Your Heart’ are highlights on a record that provides nothing but saccharine, hazy highs.[i]Lisa Wright[/i] .
Porcelain RaftStrange Weekend[Secretly Canadian; 2012]By Toby McCarron; January 24, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIt’s fair to say that the debut album of Rome-turned-London-turned-New York musician Mauro Remiddi has been a long time coming. The highly versatile Italian has soundtracked films, played piano for a tap dance Broadway show and even had a stint in the Berlin Youth Circus before deciding to concentrate his musical experience into his Porcelain Raft guise. It’s a move that has been highly promising for fans of dreamy pop music, as Remiddi’s veritable influx of EPs and singles released predominantly via his Bandcamp have been consistently adored by listeners and covered by blogs for all the right reasons.
Mauro Remiddi, who currently records as Porcelain Raft, has covered an impressive amount of physical and aesthetic terrain in his years as a working musician. Italian-born Remiddi's wanderings have led him to playing indie pop in London, gypsy klezmer music with the traveling Berlin Youth Circus, piano in off-Broadway productions, and even to performing in North Korea. Considering how much globetrotting Remiddi has under his belt, it's no surprise that his music might start to evoke a sense of rootlessness and impermanence.
Some years ago, Mauro Remiddi moved from his native Rome to London, which was a leap of faith, a mapping out of an equation between connection and disconnection – something that perhaps subtly informs this, his full-length debut, following last year’s Gone Blind EP. Remiddi had previously been part of Sunny Day Sets Fire, who released the record Summer Palace in 2008, and explored indie-pop through a Beatles-Velvet Underground prism, with lovely songs like the jangly “Wilderness” and sweetly melancholic “All Our Songs”. Unfortunately, the band split up in 2009, but Remiddi’s voice, which was a huge draw of his previous band, has found a different space – one that’s rawer, scrappy, and dreamier.
Mauro Remiddi is a true citizen of the world. He has spent his life in constant motion, traveling from his homeland of Italy across Europe, Asia and the Americas, and this hunger for movement and exploration is apparent in Remiddi’s journey as a musician as well. He has performed gypsy Klezmer music as a member of the Berlin Youth Circus, studied and reinterpreted traditional music in North Korea, played piano for an Off Broadway tap dance show, penned Italian film scores, and fronted the London based indie pop band Sunny Day Sets Fire.
Let’s get straight to it: listening to Strange Weekend leaves questions lingering, even if they might not be apparent at surface level. This debut full-length offering from Porcelain Raft is a perfectly charming set of endearingly sweet lo-fi dream-pop, the sort where the emotional signposts are obvious even if the specific words written on them are not. ‘Unless You Speak from Your Heart’ is an alt-pop song of the brightest hue, all wantaway wistfulness and a hook that sticks around long after the rest of the song’s packed up and gone home.
Porcelain Raft, aka London-via-Italy bedroom composer Mauro Remiddi, obviously preferred a lo-fi, demo-like aesthetic for his 2011 debut EP, Gone Blind. That promising release previewed an attraction for Swedish indie-pop ("Tip of Your Tongue"), John Lennon's razor- sharp poignance ("Dragonfly"), an overall sense of T. Rex glam, and even some darkwave noise on "Talk to Me." All of those tracks were dipped neck-deep in a bath or reverb and static.
If someone locks himself in a basement for weeks at a time, it can be hard to figure out just what they are doing. In the case of Mauro Remiddi (who has a few past releases also under the name Porcelain Raft), who did just that while recording Strange Weekend, we can assume he spends some time listening to Ariel Pink, Slowdive, and probably My Bloody Valentine because of the vocal resemblance alone. Note that Porcelain Raft is a male, while My Bloody Valentine’s vocals were often female, but that distinctive, androgynous voice is a defining sound of Porcelain Raft’s proper debut, Strange Weekend.
The name Porcelain Raft suggests a rather precarious refuge that owes more to its beauty than its effectiveness. So goes the well-meaning but ineffectual Strange Weekend, the debut album of Italian-born singer-songwriter Mauro Remiddi. Once the driving force behind bubbly indie-pop band Sunny Day Sets Fire, Remiddi imbues his solo effort as Procelain Raft with celestial psych-folk instrumentation and mechanized rhythms while borrowing generously from the Flaming Lips school of dream rock.
It’s unlikely that you’ll hear a back story as cool as Mauro Remiddi’s. Before he began to record as Porcelain Raft, Remiddi traveled from his native Italy to London, Berlin, North Korea and finally New York. Along the way, he caravanned with the Berlin Youth Circus performing gypsy Klezmer music, created reinterpretations of traditional North Korean folk songs and played piano for an Off-Broadway tap show.
Italian's debut LP is an impressive step towards realising a defined identity. Marcus J. Moore 2012 Home studio recordings can be quite charming: the notion of a man left alone with his creativity, manipulating divergent sounds without restrictions. But with that independence comes a possible downside.