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. The drums may be a little off. Or there’s a persistent hiss you just can’t ignore. Perhaps the mix is somewhat dim. Still, the freedom of making music in the basement works for an artist like Mauro Remiddi, a former member of the band Sunny Day Sets Fire, now recording under the name Porcelain Raft. His brand of fidgety synth-pop sits somewhere between 1990s George Michael and M83: a stomping display of inaudible vocals and restless rhythms.
On his proper solo debut, Strange Weekend, Remiddi builds upon the foundation of his independently released Porcelain Raft work; except this recording, captured in a New York basement, is glossier and more focused than his previous collections. Just five months ago, the Fountain’s Head EP provided a brief glimpse into his withdrawn shoegazing aesthetic, even if the finished product felt somewhat unfinished. On the track Everything From Your Hands, for instance, his falsetto shimmered – and eventually cracked – atop an acoustic guitar melody. But while that set found the artist searching for his creative voice, Strange Weekend is a streamlined affirmation benefitting from a visceral approach. Here, the Porcelain Raft sound writhes with urgency, merging an isolated side with cleaner instrumentals.
On Shapeless & Gone, for example, Remiddi sings like a veteran John Lennon over a bouncy array of echoed drum drips and muffled strings. If You Have a Wish is an airy blend of sputtering thumps, the central voice drifting softly through the melody. At certain points during this efficient 34-minute recording, Remiddi disappears into the music, his ambient voice becoming another instrument in his self-effacing dance mixture. Perhaps, though, Strange Weekend needed seamless transitions between songs, as the awkward spaces disrupt the continuity and stall this album’s momentum. Nonetheless, this is an impressive debut and a solid step toward a more realised identity. There’s something soulful in the cellar.
--Marcus J. Moore
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