Porcelain Raft - Microclimate
Porcelain Raft is composer/songwriter Mauro Remiddi, who originally hails from Italy. His sound has a theatrical undertone to it, especially in the emotion he displays in his vocals. His most recent album, Microclimate, starts out with a lo-fi country feel. He combines acoustic guitar with dreamy synths in a way that’s reminiscent of The Flaming Lips. Other artists that come to mind when listening to this album are Oasis, Wilco, Foster the People, and Sigur Ros. At times it feels throwback, like in ‘Big Sur,’ reminding me of songs like Wilco’s ‘A Shot in the Arm.’
Instrumentally, the album has a lovely combination of electric and acoustic guitar, psychedelic synths, harmonica, piano, and a variety of percussions. His vocals always sound as if they’re floating above everything else. He delivers the lines so delicately but can belt without missing a beat. The airy, whispery sound is similar to Sigur Ros and shares the same beautiful feel.
Each track creates a different scene, and the vibe shifts easily with a slight change in chord progression. The songs rise and fall, creating a feeling of swimming in waves. He cleverly uses intricate melodies on piano and guitar that exist outside of the tempo and creates emotion. This is heard especially in ‘Rising,’ which is a beautiful track that makes you want to close your eyes and just listen.
It’s strange how one minute, you’re swaying to a 90’s esque indie song, and the next you’re in a trippy, dramatic scene. In ‘Kookaburra,’ he cleverly uses minor and major chords together to create a spooky tone. This song reminds me a lot of The Flaming Lips when they go down a darker path. The vocals are high and haunting, singing “fear leads the blind.” The next track, ‘The Greatest View,’ takes this concept one step further where the melody and the delivery of the vocals is absolutely creepy, bringing to mind the classic spooky song, ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles.
Some songs swell with strings, like ‘Bring Me to the River,’ while others are distorted with a heavy emphasis on electric guitar, like in ‘Accelerating Curve.’ The flow of the album is mostly coherent, but there are moments where it feels like there were multiple ideas battling each other. For example, ‘The Poets Were Right’ is a departure from the previous track and feels more like a song you would sway back and forth to. The album does feel experimental as a whole, especially in ‘Zero Frames Per Second,’ where the first minute is just synths and sounds with no particular tempo. The album closes out with a more upbeat indie song, still layered with a hint of trippyness, ‘Inside the White Whale.’
Overall, this is a lovely album. His vocals are dreamy, the production is dramatic, and it maintains a level of innovation that makes it interesting. I appreciate the psychedelic nature of it, although it does get lost among some of the other sounds. I wouldn’t necessarily listen to it on repeat, but there is definitely a time when an album with this vibe would feel right - for instance, a rainy day spent inside. You will enjoy Microclimate if you like slow, experimental, and somewhat theatrical indie/pop music.
by Amber Harris