Live Review

Porcelain Raft + I Ching, The Lexington, London

It’s refreshing to witness a musician working on his own terms, but tonight it is sadly against everyone else’s wants and wishes.

Porcelain Raft, otherwise known as Italian-via-NY musician Mauro Remiddi, takes to the stage along with a star-shaped inflated balloon. He releases the balloon to the audience in an emphatically tongue-in-cheek fashion before launching into his live show, a well turned-out headline set upstairs at The Lexington. This could be seen as Flaming Lips-esque performance gimmickry on a very scaled-down budget, or it could be deemed as a moment of spontaneity; perhaps the musician merely found the object in the short travel from sitting room to stage and decided in the moment to take it with him. Knowing Porcelain Raft, it is very likely to be the latter.

Before this however, I Ching provide their musical support. Beginning their set with standout track ‘Drive’, they win over everyone’s attention from the start. At this very early stage of their career, the four piece seem a band directing their talents in many different musical avenues. Their namesake, the ancient Chinese manuscript, is otherwise known as the ‘Book Of Changes’ and the band’s set seems entirely akin to this, each song bringing a different dimension and a diverse inspiration. Having only a handful of performances to their name and a debut single still to be released on the newly-launched Best Fit Recordings, you would be likely to turn a blind eye to these misgivings. And so you should, as amongst all the nerves are glimmers of potential that with time will be channeled in one unitary direction, like a kid genius deciding what A-Levels he’s going to take and what career he’s going to choose for the rest of his life. But like a gushing teacher at parent’s night, we’re pretty damn sure they’ll excel whatever path they decide to plump for.

Porcelain Raft, another artist who seems at a knife-edge of time right now, makes his way to the stage with the aforementioned balloon. Having released a handful of demos prior, it was debut full-length ‘Strange Weekend’ that really propelled the musician beyond the realm of online-only consciousness. It was a release that gave chillwave-leaning electronica one last glimmer of hope but it inevitably fizzled out of vogue. Combining the guitar-based sound of his early short-plays, the album was better than just another sun-kissed covered Bandcamp release though; it showed maturity of songwriting and depths much comparable to that of Banjo Or Freakout’s 2011 debut release. With chillwave’s summertime well and truly underway, it seems of great interest what a talented but inevitably pigeon-holed electronic musician like Porcelain Raft is going to do next. I guess this is what the entire temporary populous of The Lexington is here tonight to see.

But instead of looking to the future, Porcelain Raft - known for his sporadic changing of set lists - decides to take a glance back. Like his spontaneous befriending of an inflated balloon at the start of a gig, this sense of off-the-cuff action flows into his live set, filling his billed slots largely with early numbers and EP rarities. ‘Tip Of Your Tongue’, like on the ‘Gone Blind’ EP it’s taken from, appears as a standout amongst a set full of non-album material. During the encore wait, it’s easy to hear a woman to the left of the stage trying to defend the musician to a group of friends she’s brought along to the show. “But the album is really great,” she tries to justify, a sentiment that sums up the show perfectly.

As Porcelain Raft returns to the stage alone, he launches into his most popular hit ‘Drifting In And Out’ - much to the patient crowd’s joy. A perfect ending to a frustratingly unbalanced set, it’s refreshing to witness a musician working on his own terms, but tonight it is sadly against everyone else’s wants and wishes.

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