With all this chat about Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen elsewhere today we thought we were going to OD on testosterone. So much manliness. Of course, there is another male rock’n’roll archetype, and that is the lost boy – Syd Barrett, Nick Drake, characters who were barely there, who made their music then drifted away. Their careers weren’t played out, as per Young and Springsteen, as titanic struggles against the forces of oppression, they weren’t grizzled survivors, they quietly wrote some songs, found it all too much, and left.
Porcelain Raft is more of a lost boy than a rock man. That word “rock” says it all – you wouldn’t necessarily cling to him in a crisis, unless it was an emotional one. Maybe that’s why he calls himself that; he might crack, but then again, he might just save your life. His voice is soft, listless, not a roar of defiance but a whisper of regret. He’s more in the tradition of the fey indie boy who emerged, at a guess, circa punk or just after, with Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley as the Godfather of this whole new way for male performers to present themselves, Edwyn Collins as the Son, and Morrissey as the Holy Ghost. What those three projected wasn’t Bowie-esque glam camp but a sort of sexual indifference, a subversive disdain for all inclinations and orientations. With his placeless wispy lisp, Mauro Remiddi, an Italian living in London who used to be in a band called Sunny Day Sets Fire, sounds too weary and distracted, too enervated and dislocated, to think about anything as earthy as sex. It’s a wonder his keyboard gets played or his computer programmed. His focus appears to be trying to stay focused.
His songs, we perhaps should have said earlier, are gorgeous, bleary and blissed-out. They’re post-glitch and in the realm of the hauntological, by which we mean they acknowledge developments in technology and production technique since 2000, and have a similar sense of being haunted by pop past as Ariel Pink et al. We could pinpoint any number of tracks (he’s only been doing this since the start of the year and already has amassed several EPs worth of material), and suffice to say that fans of dreamy pop ballads with heartbreaking chord changes, given experimental electronic and/or psychedelic treatments learned from everyone from Kevin Shields to Aphex Twin to Vladislav Delay to Fennesz, will love Remiddi and what he does as Porcelain Raft. Just don’t expect him to wear a bandana. — The Guardian