Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend
Record Label - Secretly Canadian
Release Date - January 24
In the world of indie-pop, Mauro Remiddi could be readily considered an enigma. He's an oxymoron; he rubs against the grain. At 37, Remiddi has done a reversal of what usually happens in the indie realm: instead of starting in the bedroom, eventually upgrading to the studio to heighten production value, he did the opposite and found his way back to the bedroom. And judging by his Secretly Canadian debut Strange Weekend alone, a label which is perfect home for his homespun dream-pop, it's a good thing he did. After spending time in the higher-produced indie-pop outfit Sunny Day Sets Fire and lending his talents to everything from Gypsy caravan music to off-Broadway productions, the London-based Italian musician opted to take a different route, making sparser music on his own under his Porcelain Raft moniker. After releasing a few EPs on his Bandcamp leading up to this debut, it was increasingly apparent that Remiddi's decision to trade big budget sheen with something more intimate and immediate was the right way to go.
As the opening track's title "Drifting In and Out" eludes to, the songs comprising Remiddi's new album are ethereal, weighless and boundless. Compared with his previous works, Strange Weekend sounds consistently innerstellar and cerebral. The songs themselves are wrapped in wispy reverb and underlined with pulsive, often not commanding, beat tracks that make them both dreamy and other-worldly. It's bedroom music with epic intent and delivery. Fans of recent breakout solo project Youth Lagoon would find a shared kinship between the two projects. But unlike Trevor Powers' brand of booming but lonesome bedroom pop, Remiddi opts for styles more groovy and soulful, with some ideas leaning on stadium-sized '70s glam rock. Take second track "Shapeless & Gone" for exaple. With its sky-scraping acoustic rock hook, noddling electric guitars lines and pulsive keyboard, it sounds like something ripped from the pages of Creem circa 1973. Having worked with his previous band, Remiddi is well-rounded in pop theatrics and big hooks enough to make even his music come off grandiose while retaining a rougher, DIY edge. And even though he doesn't hold back on a variety of influences and ideas, he is able to keep the album consistent throughout. It's what helps him jump from a track like the Prince-like balladry of "The End of Silence" to the bounce and swing love letter of "Picture."
Many of the tracks also have sweeping, head-in-the-clouds builds that are reminissant of both early and later M83. And like his like-minded French counterparts, Remiddi mixes a broad array of influences ranging from dissonant shoegaze to all-out dream-pop to create atmospheric pop that has equal parts heart, wonder and weary abandoned. While many of the lyrics are lost or muffled in wash of layers of reverb and electronics, the sense of longing is not lost in the music. This is mostly due in part to Remiddi's soft, distant falsetto which gives the album its dreamlike, nostalgic warmth. It's the simple fact that this is the kind of music able to show its emotional tenderness without having to read the actual lyrics. But when the lyrics are at the forefront of songs like the hushed "The Way In," the small glimpses are enough to show what is at the center of Strange Weekend: "I'm solely in my brain, you will go away somehow/ I wish nothing more than what I have/ I hope you can say the same/ I know that you talk to yourself at night/ Do you feel better?/ Do you feel right?/ There's no need to play games tonight."
The album really hits its stride on the anthem-sized "Unless You Speak From Your Heart." It's a dizzying track that's big, bright and optimistic and has Remiddi repeating the song's title to it's spaced-out climax. While initial listens of the album might feel like it bleeds together too seamlessly, it's with repeated listens that you'll be able to pull, extract and explore just how much Remiddi is able to jam into the sonic cloudspaces of Strange Weekend. All in all, it's a solid debut effort and one that never spares on electronic dramatics and an extensive array of far-ranging ideas. It's clear Remiddi has a broad palette of ideas he is wanting to explore through his solo outlet, so it's anyone's guess where he'll take his sound next. For now, we'll settle for a casual float in the tin can of today's reigning Major Tom.
Hey y'all. This is my first contributing review with AP.net. I'll be writing reviews for Eda, so expect a lot of indie-minded reviews. If that's your thing, great. If not, hopefully my reviews will get you into some music you haven't heard before. Either way, thanks for reading. Comments encouraged.