Rather like Perfume Genius and Youth Lagoon, behind the mysterious pseudonym lies just one man and his bag of electronic trickery. Porcelain Raft is actually the Italian born producer and former member of Sunny Day Sets Fire, Mauro Remiddi, who created a mild buzz last year with the release of his understated debut album Strange Weekend.
Permanant Signal continues the dream-pop template Remiddi laid down last time, but with a seemingly more ambitious slant this time round. Opening track Think Of The Ocean begins with a blast of distorted electronic noise that sounds like a helicopter taking off, the harshness of which contrasts nicely with Remiddi’s almost androgynous vocals. There’s a touch of Beach House to Porcelain Raft, not least in the gentle swelling of the music and in Remiddi’s uncanny vocal similarity to Victoria Legrand.
The dream-pop continues with Cluster, and it’s no surprise to see members of The Antlers guesting on the album – there’s often the same air of exquisite sadness that the Brooklynites specialise in. Yet Remiddi seems keen to broaden his palette this time round: there’s even a hint of dance music in Minor Pleasure.
Album centrepiece I Lost Connection is the highlight of the album, a piano ballad that manages to sound both big and epic while also remaining frail and intimate. It makes a dramatic contrast to the preceding It Ain’t Over, all clattering percussion with a palpable sense of unease. The gorgeous instrumental Five Minutes From Now shines a hint of post-rock into Remiddi’s vision, with layers of guitar and synths building steadily on top of one another.
The one constant throughout Permanent Signal though is the sense of woozy, dreamy bliss, which sometimes can feel almost narcotic. It’s best exemplified in Night Birds (where the Beach House comparisons are rolled out again) or in the odd little ambient interludes such as Open Door or Warehouse that are threaded through the album.
And yet as good as Permanent Signal can be – and, at times, it’s very good indeed – there’s a sense that it doesn’t always hang together as it could do. Despite the variety of styles on offer, Remiddi’s songs still have a tendency to seep into one another, and there seems to be more of an emphasis on atmosphere than melody on some tracks. However that atmosphere is well worth soaking in – and it’s a steady sign of progression that indicates Remiddi is on a definite upwards trajectory.