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January 27, 2012

Album Review: Porcelain Raft ‘Strange Weekend’

by @thoughtontracks

My introduction came when Ernst Greene (Washed Out) told Pitchfork in an interview that his favorite new artist was Porcelain Raft.  The unfamiliarity with this name drove me to his Bandcamp site and I streamed and then spent an easy $5.00 on his EP “Fountain’s Head”.  I was immediately struck by the timing of the measures.  The simple rhythm was paired with an influential voice. The more I listened, the more I appreciated what Porcelain Raft had to offer.  My gratitude reached an all time high when Porcelain Raft came to Indianapolis and opened for Yuck. Mauro Remiddi was solely orchestrated an enormous sound. His entire performance offered a DIY approach smothered with polish and control. Remiddi carries this mix into his debut LP Strange Weekend, released this week on Bloomington’s Secretly Canadian.

The first thing I noticed when I saw Porcelain Raft live is that Remiddi is a punctual perfectionist.  He understands that, in order for this project to work, time management and execution must be constantly at the top of mind. While the live show is good, the studio is Porcelain Raft’s dock, his comfortable home.  It is my best guess that Remiddi took of his shoes, got warmed up and relaxed as he recorded Strange Weekend. A patient structure is noted throughout this recording as a heavy dose of daze brings each song together.

The album begins with an infectious rhythm that strikes each note at just the right time.  Opener, “Drifting In and Out” is a great first impression for new listeners.  An electric guitar blows through each speaker, recreating a chillwave vibe.  As I listen to this track I understand why Washed Out was washed in. They share the DIY approach by creating a certain mood-melting music that can send one dreaming for days.

A repeated thump of a drum machine, the mellow progression of an acoustic guitar, and emotional vocals combine to ease your post work pains. Track, “Shapeless & Gone” follows with a certain relaxation that is pulled for the last note of “Drifting In and Out”.  This song is certainly the catalyst that takes this album to the end.  Many sounds cover the track, but Remiddi’s vocals push through the surface to guide not only the track, but also the listener.

“Shapeless & Gone”

“Unless You Speak from Your Heart” serves as the signature moment of the release for me.  Remiddi calmly declares, “I don’t want to listen, unless you speak from your heart.” While simple, this phrase reflects a straight-to-the-point, subtle confidence that defines Porcelain Raft. This song is where thought mixes with vision and breeds a project. Listeners will have a difficult time letting go of this moment as 2012 quickly passes us by.  Hundreds of albums will be released and thousand songs to follow, but “Unless You Speak from Your Heart” has the longevity to sail through the year on Porcelain Raft.

“Unless You Speak from your Heart”

The black sheep in this new flock of songs are acoustic tracks “Picture” and “The Way In”. The stripped-down melodies on the six-string allow Remiddi’s voice to shine. While these songs might appear unconventional for the album, they prove to be the most straightforward tracks of the bunch. It is his explanation for difference and dedication to simplicity.

I have listened to Strange Weekend backwards and forwards several times now. As I finish this post, I get the feeling that this album will be with me for a long time. Porcelain Raft might have started as a creative idea, but now has evolved into a true vision.  I am not sure where he is going, but I hope he continues to embrace his simplicity and patience.  I could chill here for a while.

Connect to Porcelain Raft via Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

Written by Brett McGrath

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