Porcelain Raft Plays Nashville’s The Basement

On a late Monday night, in a low-ceilinged bar, Mauro Remiddi, better known by his moniker Porcelain Raft, took the stage with enough manly elegance and good humor to rival his doppelgänger, George Clooney.

Remiddi knows how to play for his audience and his space; Nashville’s tiny but treasured The Basement. This isn’t unexpected since he has been a professional musician for a while now. Mauro Remiddi had an eclectic beginning in Italy as a hotel pianist, a sound engineer, and the accordion player in a klezmer trio. A modestly successful stint with the London-based, indie pop band Sunny Day Sets Fire gave way to the ambient, harmony-driven sound of Porcelain Raft, which was developed as a turn away from the studio-polish of his former band. Porcelain Raft evolved into a quest for artistic integrity. Skill has come with his prolific journey as well.

Great big waves of synth tinged with reverb filled The Basement’s low-hanging space, but the band was never so loud as to drown themselves out. Similar to his chillwave contemporaries, Remiddi’s vocals were as much an instrument as the synthesizer. His clear, warm voice undulated above the crashing electric guitar and drums, guiding the music with undeniably appealing harmonies. Unlike most of chillwave contemporaries, however, his lyrics were understandable. Porcelain Raft opened with “Think of the Ocean” which is correspondingly the first track off his newest album, Permanent Signal. His voice, which sounds remarkably like Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip in this song, neared falsetto but never quite breached the level of pitchy annoyance.

Everyone shuffled around to watch the drummer as he switched from the wet, muffled sound of timpani mallets to the punchy beat of “Shapeless & Gone,” a track off 2012’s Strange Weekend. Remiddi and his band mate, a fellow multi-instrumentalist, moved around the stage, switching between electric guitar, bass, synth, and a Hammond organ keyboard. While changing instruments, R2-D2, or some synth that sounds remarkably like the Star Wars character, spoke to us from some unknown part of the stage. Remiddi had a giggle over this while picking up his next instrument of choice, lightening up the show that was otherwise full of heavy, existential subject matter.

Remiddi is the sort of person who takes his music seriously, but not necessarily himself. He joked with his band members and the audience. He wasn’t fazed by the small room, just happy to share with those who appreciated his work. He verified a statement he once made to Pitchfork that, “The live experience and the connection with the people is everything.”

For his final song, “The Way Out,” he invited everyone, including the sound guy, onto the stage. Remiddi’s intensity was palpable as I stood directly behind him, his back bowed over the keyboard pulsing with the rhythm. With this simple invitation, the audience shared the creative experience with Porcelain Raft, guaranteeing that everyone lucky enough to be at the show will always remember the more than intimate show.

Photo By Dekeya Slaughter

Caroline McDonald

Caroline McDonald

My first memory is of singing Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” quietly to myself during preschool naptime. Perhaps it’s because I’m from Nashville where an instrument lives in every home, but music has gripped me for as long as I can remember.

After dabbling in many parts of the music industry—recording studios, PR, management, labels, publishing—I’m expanding into music journalism because I’m yet to find anything more rewarding that finding and sharing new music.

A longtime sucker for girls with guitars, my musical taste unabashedly follows the songwriting lineage of Dolly Parton and includes Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, and Neko Case. But not to pigeonhole myself, my music love is big love that stretches from R.L. Burnside to Animal Collective to Lord Huron.

I’ve recently moved home to Nashville after living in Boston and Big Sur for several years. I’d forgotten how music pours onto the streets ten hours a day, seven days a week. I’m honored to share the creative explosion happening here. If your band is in the area or of the area, please reach out!
Caroline McDonald

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