Thursday, 22 August 2013

Review: 'Strange Weekend' by Porcelain Raft

Porcelain Raft, the music project of Italy-born Mauro Remiddi, is an exciting artist I'd like you all to know about. He released his first full-length record Strange Weekend in early 2012, but actually began his career already in the 1990s and has toured the world ever since, even playing for an off-Broadway show in New York and performing in North Korea. Quite the traveller, you might say.

Strange Weekend is an interesting mixture of shoegaze and ambient lo-fi music, occasionally seasoned with a pinch of acoustic guitar in the background. Sounding like your every average dream pop ensemble? Well it's not. It could be, though: experimental music that infuses electronic elements with acoustic music isn't necessarily that groundbreaking after all, but Porcelain Raft succeeds in creating an actually unique album. From the wistful "Backwords" or "The Way In" to the more upbeat tunes like "Put Me To Sleep", every song is an individual. Sure, as it often tends to happen with more ambient albums, some songs do end up being dreamy walls of sound - lovely, but not always immediately recognisable - but there are also stronger stand-out songs balancing the album: there's the marvellous "Shapeless & Gone" and then there's "Unless You Speak From Your Heart" that you can bob your head to (though it's not exactly dancey but very catchy regardless). But most importantly, there's "Drifting In And Out", an absolutely stellar tune that you can have on repeat for nearly infinite amounts of time without ever growing bored. It's gorgeous. Last year I ranked it as one of the best songs of 2012. And for a reason, I believe. Do yourself a favour and fall in love with it. It was the first song I ever heard from Porcelain Raft, and I found it through Skins - the series always had top-notch music - where it was featured in a stunning tearjerker scene.

When you spend a lot of time on the road, you might feel rootless and alienated and I could imagine Mauro Remiddi felt that way while recording the album. The lyrics refer to travelling a lot, for example "Shapeless & Gone" has the storyteller admiring the changing sceneries: "In a strange kind of way / lifeless landscapes have so much to say". Sonically the album feels like a voyage as well, like a person drifting around the world, or in space even, looking for something to hold on to: "Take me away / directionless / It doesn't have to make any sense". This is music for people on an endless journey, and for those who never stopped dreaming.

4 / 5

Try at least: "Drifting In And Out", "Shapeless & Gone", "Backwords", "Unless You Speak From Your Heart"

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