Recording artist James Ferraro is the future.
Like the future, Ferraro is as bright as he is uncertain. A prolific and remarkably confounding figure, he seems content to exist as a kind of living meta-meme. The New York transplant lives in LA now and in online interviews gives the impression that he’s content to amble through the sprawl drinking smoothies in neon lit juice bars, dreaming up ringtone symphonies on janky 99 cent iPad apps. His vision of LA seemingly is less Blade Runner dystopia and more of a candy and cola, Speed Racer-ish touch screen paradise.
When his label Hippos in Tanks offered the KCRW Music Blog an exclusive mix, I was stoked at the prospect of another frenzied mix in the vein of one he released under the alias BEBE-TUNE$ that sounded like the bastard pop child of Rihanna & Chris Brown trapped in a Sega Genesis game version of Mallrats. A perfect soundtrack, just in time for the brain-frying shopping “holiday” Black Friday. But, in now predictable unpredictable fashion, Ferraro offered up “No Regrets“.
Showcasing Ferraro’s interest in chorale music and operatic composition, the mix incorporates new original work by Ferraro with classical and sacred music. It is audacious, completely bonkers and has scented candle store vibes all over it. But it’s also, without a doubt, hands-down the ballsiest “mixtape” I’ve ever heard.
Ferraro’s last album, 2011’s Far Side Virtual, was hailed by critics (particularly in the UK) as a difficult but remarkable listen, a perfect example of the times. His Baudrillardian take on digital culture as it relates to the real world is equal parts avant garde grift and a stunningly true reflection of our technological addiction. The weird crisp soundscapes were a fever dream of cheesy ringtone synths and ambient exercises that are the audio equivalent of the flying toasters screen savers. Where Daft Punk makes infinitely listenable pop-house, Ferraro is a daft punk making challenging wannabe pop muzak for food courts and airport terminal walkways. His most recent provocation/album is called Sushi. Speaking in Calvin Klein adspeak Ferraro states, “Sushi is designer, Sushi is my obsessions, my darkness, it’s just my life squeezed into my music.”
Sushi is a pretty fascinating listen and I leave you to your own discovery.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving…and Black Friday.
— Mario Cotto