James Ferraro – Far Side Virtual

James Ferraro – Far Side Virtual

3.5/5

2011

James Ferraro has made a cult career for himself by finding the beauty in kitsch. This time around, he delves into the sounds of what can only be described as “educational CD-ROM music” or “shoe store employee orientation video music.” It’s the sort of stuff spewed from MIDI keyboards and tinny drum machines, no doubt thought of as “futuristic” circa 1993. What keeps Far Side Virtual from drowning in irony is how Ferraro merges these retro sounds with modern beatmaking techniques. And this only makes sense for a record that dwells on all manner of technologies, with references to ringtones, iPads, Skype and Pixar in the music, song titles and artwork. For an album obsessed with information overload, it also fits that the record is densely saturated with warped synths, decaying sound effects and reverberating piano chords, all of which perfectly mimic the legions of ill-fated producers aspiring to make their own Another Green World with nothing but a cheap Casio keyboard. Sure, there’s humor in the music’s outdatedness, but the main draw of Far Side Virtual is just how pleasantly listenable it all is. Despite all the purposeful artificiality on display, the album is breezy, melodic and accessible, even when threatening, darker moments bubble up from time to time. Unfortunately, the record is ultimately a bit of a one-trick pony. Ferraro never really bothers to move beyond the same pattern of canned strings and computerized keyboard effects, and as the album continues down its sixteen-track playlist, Far Side Virtual can’t help but feel a bit repetitive at times, especially when stand-out tracks like “Sim” and “Fro Yo And Cellular Bits” are few and far between. Still, congratulations are in order since not every artist can use some of the least timeless music ever as a starting point and spin it into gold. Ferraro’s high-concept artiness may keep his audience limited, but it also helps him stand out in an age where many musicians disappear in a haze of YouTube clips. Well done.

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Posted on November 23, 2011, in James Ferraro. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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