Permanent Signal: a condition in which a POTS [plain old telephone service] line is off-hook withoutconnection for an extended period of time.*It’s a term that Mauro Remiddi kept coming back to when reflecting on much of the time between last year’srelease of Strange Weekend, the multi-instrumentalist’s debut full-length as Porcelain Raft, and this, its properfollow-up. “In a way, growing up in Italy, then living for 12 years in London, and now two-and-a-half years inNew York, made me realize that I have some dear friends that I rarely see,” explains Mauro. “I was touringalmost non-stop for eight months and I started having these imaginary conversations in my head with peopleI wanted to communicate with, but for one reason or another it couldn’t happen. So this idea of the album titlecomes with there being a signal that says the line is off.”Mauro began working on Permanent Signal two months after returning from tour, a period of readjustmentin which he was beginning to enjoy normal everyday comforts such as frequenting his favorite coffee spot inhis Brooklyn neighborhood and connecting with friends again, even as the thoughts of those unrealizedconversations during his recent travels were still very fresh in his mind. Inspired by this surreal moment oftransition, where the reality of finally being home was still overshadowed by lingering feelings of detachment,he sold almost all of the instruments that he used for Strange Weekend in order to “start with a new colorpallet.” It’s immediately apparent in Permanent Signal’s opener, “Think of the Ocean,” where the densebasement-recorded haze of his last full-length has been traded for a spacious melancholy, as cello, piano anddrums gently spiral atop a faint pulsing tone that mirrors the album’s title. And while layers of synths andelectronics still play a role, the new record is far more organic than Porcelain Raft’s previous album and EPs,an intentional move according to Mauro; “I wanted to record in the studio just to capture the guitars anddrums properly, and to have some real input from musicians I respected and loved to hang with.”Enlisting some support from YUCK’s Jonny Rogoff on drums, Antlers bassist Darby Cicci (who alsocontributed double vocals and trumpet, and engineered the sessions in Antlers’ Brooklyn studio), and cellistGaspar Claus (frequent collaborator with Sufjan Stevens and the National’s Bryce Dessner), Porcelain Raft’sonce gauzy pop has now turned as vivid as a waking dream. During “Minor Pleasure,” Mauro finds catharsiswhen conceding in his otherworldly tenor that “there’s nothing hidden in what we see, sometimes you just haveto let it end,” amidst the processed drone of an organ and a piano that taps into the gospel-dosed psychedeliaof Spiritualized, while the radiant lull of “Night Birds” reaches cosmic bliss, as crystalline guitars andsynthesizers echo the song’s poignant sense of nostalgia. Elsewhere, tracks like the aforementioned “Think ofthe Ocean,” “Cluster” and the haunting, Lennon-esque “I Lost Connection” deal directly with lives either onhold or in transition -- all universal themes of the human condition which allow the listener to fill in their ownpersonal experiences with a permanent signal.*“Permanent Signal.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia Wikimeida Foundation, Inc. 24 December 2012. Web
Porcelain Raft's "Drifting In And Out" is the opening track to his debut full length, Strange Weekend. It's the Italian born singer's anthemic, gauzy and chiming cavalry call to arms.
The 7"s b-side, "Chain", astutely balances melancholy and wistfulness. Remiddi does his best heart string pulling to date as he sings "and I feel something/something I cannot deny/half my life behind."
Porcelain Raft's thesis statement hits when side B kicks off with "Unless You Speak From Your Heart." Remiddi's enigmatic vocals carrying a hook so simple that you might think you sang it first; keys and bass that might make the needle jump off of your turntable; and a sense of raw sincerity that has come to trademark Remiddi's songs is what ultimately resonates.
The b-side, "Something In Between," with it's shimmering Cocteau Twins guitar line, cleft bass, and colorful reverb is the gentlest of tornados. One that's sturdy enough to pick you up & take you for a spin but at, the end, sits you back down leaving you feeling like you just had your first Summer romance.
Remiddi's androgynous vapor of a voice weaves like a ghost between Nick Gilder and The Alessi Brothers, Julee Cruise and Judee Sill. In more contemporary terms, Porcelain Raft stands confidently on a high hill between the sounds of M83 and Beach House. Lead track "Drifting In and Out" is loping and anthemic; gauzy and chiming. "Shapeless and Gone" follows with a heavy strum reminiscent of "Cosmic Dancer" — full of mood and style without all the wearying excesses and feathered boas. Porcelain Raft's thesis statement hits when side B kicks off with "Unless You Speak From Your Heart." Remiddi's androgynous vocals carrying a hook so simple that you might think you sang it first; keys and bass that might make the needle jump off of your turntable; and a sense of raw sincerity that has come to trademark Remiddi's songs is what ultimately resonates.
Porcelain Raft is the nom de plume of one Mauro Remiddi, Rome native, music/video mastermind and purveyor of some of the most exquisite, haunting and heartbreaking love songs you’re likely to hear in a good long while. Unsurprisingly, for someone who started off in music scoring short films, the world of Porcelain Raft traverses deeply evocative and emotive terrain, gorgeously redolent of moments lingering just on the fraying edges of time and memory.
Together, these tracks serve to announce Porcelain Raft as an important new name to watch, and, as anybody who has caught him live recently (supporting the likes of Blonde Redhead on their recent European tour or at several showcase at CMJ 2010) will attest, a beautifully compelling live act as well.