Shoegaze Euro-Pop Teaches Us What We’re Afraid Of
Porcelain Raft is the brainchild of the highly productive, Italian-born composer Mauro Remiddi. His newest album is deceptively personal and betrays much emotion, despite all its hyper-modern frills (or lack thereof). It is distinctly European, with several of the early tracks giving the feel of ‘80s and ‘90s British pop-rock mixed with a dash of UK-based shoegaze. Rich textural background synths and androgynous vocals prevail throughout.
Microclimate particularly appears to concern itself with time and all things temporal. Its tracks are relatively short and often end quite abruptly without resolution. There are repeated uses of futuristic synths that border on camp, and multiple allusions to memory, dreams and perhaps apocalypse. When Remiddi is not musing about the dreamscapes of sea lions, he is markedly expressing the widely experienced fear of forgetting and being forgotten in time – which may be what drives artists like himself to create what and when they do. “They’re burning all my tapes, all my memory up in smoke,” Remiddi laments, acknowledging that dreamscapes are often more nightmarish than we like to admit. On “Zero Frame Per Second” we hear the lyric, “…falling into the sun,” to follow, “…to another world, come on, this way…” on “Big Sur” and precede “The Greatest View,” which foretells, “morning drums at the end of the world.”
The album largely progresses in an increasingly foreboding direction with each track, the pop sound like sunlight glinting off the ocean giving way to laments, fears and electric guitars, with breaks for pseudo-ballads featuring bowed strings and piano heavy with pedal and distortion. These new developments are not unwelcome, however. “Bring Me to the River” balances Remiddi’s distinctive shoegaze vocal style with a grounding right-hand piano melody in duple meter.
In addition to time, a frequent motif throughout Microclimate is water. This may connect to Remiddi having grown up in relative proximity to the Mediterranean, or it may simply be an instance of a common thematic symbol in alternative music. There is, of course, the artist’s title, referencing a watercraft of dubious construction. Additionally, there are references to bodies of water: the sea, the ocean and the previously mentioned track, titled, “Bring Me to the River.” Metaphorically this is a reasonable thing to represent alongside time in the form of music, as all three elements are ubiquitous parts of the human experience with an unmistakable flow.