Porcelain Raft - Strange Weekend
Get your tin hats on because the blogosphere is about to go nuclear over Porcelain Raft, the solo recording project of Mauro Remiddi, once of cosmopolitan multi-continental psych pop outfit Sunny Day Sets Fire. On debut album Strange Weekend Mauro sculpts delicate, dreamy soundscapes out of the finest clay like a refugee from a 4AD seminar with a full compliment of the de-rigeur glitchy beats designed to dampen a blogger's nether regions.
Album opener, the perfectly named 'Drifting In and Out', does exactly what it says on the tin, drifting in and out like a muscular Cocteau Twins. It's so 4AD it could have been designed from a template provided by Iwo Watts-Russell. With its gently strummed acoustic guitar, choir of angels backing vocals and washes of synth 'Shapeless & Gone' is the point at which alt-folk and dream pop shake hands and form a temporary alliance. It sounds like a lost T-Rex classic re-mastered for a modern audience. Two songs in and you can understand why the blogosphere are going all a quiver over Porcelain Raft.
'Is It Too Deep For You' has its dials set for the centre of your heart. With beats that crack like a gun shot, tremorous vocals and harsh synths it stirs emotions you thought you never had. It reminds me of Phil Collins' 'Something In The Air Tonight'. Not the coolest of references I grant you but it shares the emotional intensity of the Collins' classic making it one of the album's stand-out tracks. On 'Put Me Into Sleep' Mauro persistently demands to be put into sleep and it's not clear whether he's simply suffering from insomnia or is so desperate that he wants someone to help him to end it all. There's a haunting desperation to his vocals which merely adds to the confusion.
Remiddi's vocal agility is so impressive he could easily carve out a career as an impressionist if he doesn't make his millions from Porcelain Raft. One minute he sounds like John Lennon (the anthemic 'Unless You Speak From Your Heart') the next you'd swear he'd swallowed a Julee Cruise pill ('Backwords'). It's this variety that sets Strange Weekend apart from the crowd, sets it apart from its dream pop cousins and their suffocating waves of vaporous vocals.
Unlike the cosy, comforting, slanket and cocoa dream pop churned out by peers like Beach House, Strange Weekend has a darker side, an edgier side. You can wrap yourself up in the ambient, warm washes of sound but you can never quite relax. There's always a jagged beat or a sharp vocal to shake you out of your comfort zone. Strange Weekend is a spiky little gem amongst the soft-edged faux pearls of their dream pop peers.
Purchase and listen
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