Tuesday, January 17, 2012

PORCELAIN RAFT Strange Weekend

There has been a raft (ouch) of one-man, two-word band name outfits surfing the spreading tail-end of chillwave in different directions: Washed Out, Memory Tapes, Neon Indian, even extending to the retro sythn-pop revivalism of Twin Shadow. The opening track on the debut Porcelain Raft album, ‘Drifting In And Out’ (followed by ‘Shapeless and Gone’ and later ‘Put Me To Sleep’) suggests another fellow traveller tracking this curve. Mauro Remiddi aka Porcelain Raft distances himself however from a reductive re-run of blissed-out balminess even on the first song. ‘Drifting In And Out’ is built on frail voiced melodies and compressed tinny bedroom-pop beefed up with crisply churning electronic textures - more The War On Drugs than Washed Out - and given the (post-)rock propulsion and epic sweep of say Sigur Ros with some darkly spluttering electric guitar and ecstatic yelps to boot. It sets the template for the album: melodic pop nuggets created on a laptop, draped in electronic effects and instrumentation and then projected on to a vast panoramic canvas.

“Strange Weekend” also does deliver blissed-out drift (‘If You Had A Wish’) and icy romance (‘Backwords’) but for most part feels as though it is turning the wistful into the epic and widescreen whether in the campfire-psychedelia of ‘Shapeless and Gone’, the catchy soul-pop shuffle of ‘Put Me To Sleep’ or the squeaky disco pleas of ‘Unless You Speak From Your Heart’ . The New York-via-London, Italian native’s voice is tiny amongst such surroundings but is never lost or dwarfed, instead it is the quiet core of the grandeur and scale around it.

The bedroom epics of “Strange Weekend” are not universally successfully: ‘Picture’ is a stripped back Lennon-esque strumalong that is too drippy and cloying, both lyrically and sonically, for its own good. A late whoosh of surging electronic crackle comes too late to rescue it. Remiddi shows he can do quiet effectively on the final track ‘The Way In’, a cosmic, heart-searching torch song closer. Here and where the dynamic between the lone performer and his large-scale panoramas is maintained, is where the expansive dream-pop rush tastes sweetest. “Strange Weekend” is out next week on Secretly Canadian and Porcelain Raft is supporting M83 on all UK dates this week.

Unless You Speak From Your Heart by Porcelain Raft

Porcelain Raft Strange Weekend [BUY]

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