utorak, 31. siječnja 2012.

James Ferraro - NYC, HELL 3:00 AM (2013)

James Ferraro readies HELL, NYC 3:00 AM
Štakori i otrovna voda. Nadrealna psihološka skulptura američke propasti i konfuzije.

The experimental producer's latest LP arrives roughly a year on from his last, Sushi. As with that release, HELL, NYC 3:00 AM will come out on Hippos In Tanks. "This record is about my demons just as much as its about society's demons," Ferraro explains. As the title suggests, the album explores the seedy underbelly of New York, the city Ferraro calls home. He describes it as "a surreal psychological sculpture of American decay and confusion" and says it was inspired by "the things I see," such as "rats, metal landscape, toxic water, junkie friends, HIV billboards, evil news, luxury and unbound wealth, exclusivity, facelifts, romance, insane police presence [and] lonely people... all against the sinister vastness of Manhattan's alienating skyline." You can stream snippets of two of the album's tracks, "Eternal Condition" and "Stuck 2," over at the Hippos In Tanks - www.residentadvisor.net/

Whether one found pain or pleasure in James Ferraro's mysterious landmark Far Side Virtual, it was an unremittingly bleak black mirror, twisting horribly familiar source material stripped from the contemporary digital brandscape into a set of uniquely alien compositions for the modern age. That album signified Ferraro's emergence from lo-fi and often extended cassette tape and CDR jams to become a perpetrator of hi-definition digital miniatures. However, since Far Side Virtual in 2011, follow-up Sushi and his Cold mixtape saw Ferraro veering away from abstract instrumentals and towards a wonky, glitchy sound that it was even possible to nod your head to. NYC Hell, 3:00AM is perhaps the logical conclusion to these shifts, finding Ferraro trapped in a modern personal hell of discordant vocals, introverted musings and ingenious sampling - not unlike this year's The Redeemer by his onetime collaborator, Dean Blunt.
Absurd, leftfield electronic soloists are most definitely in - NYC Hell arrives in a month that's seen the release of Oneohtrix Point Never's bizarre Warp debut and Tim Hecker's follow-up to the award-winning Ravedeath, 1972 - yet Ferraro's gradual metamorphosis has made a most unlikely turn. While Lopatin and Hecker's collagic albums continue their respective trips into the inhuman void, Ferraro (and Dean Blunt) are changing their scenery, and getting in touch with their very un-digital humanity, which is what makes NYC Hell so surprisingly compelling. It almost entirely disregards the Tim & Eric-like use of the bastardised on-screen version of reality that fuelled Far Side Virtual, in favour of a harsh and dystopic evocation of our own physical surroundings: the dull hum of the city is forever within earshot, and Ferraro's own voice is always muffled in low-fidelity – two brazen universal truths of modernity.
Characteristically unsubtle, Ferraro opens with 20 seconds of a digital voice repeating "money, money, money", leading into an overture of ambient dissonance blending environmental sound with organic and digital drones. 'Fake Pain' follows, swiftly interjecting David Ruffin's sampled God-like vocal performance from The Temptations' 'I Just Wish it Would Rain' ("People this hurt I feel inside!"). In parallel to this, a low-bitrate beat stumbles along with a trailing, unquantised synth on its tail, and Ferraro's own autotune-buggered voice muses aimlessly, snaking through the mix semi-discernibly, as on much of the album. Juxtaposing the theatrical impassioned agony of Detroit soul's greatest with the downbeat bedroom mumbling of Ferraro's inner voice, audibly captured in front of a laptop (space bar hits can clearly be heard) sets the scene for the album. This is universal pain and anguish, yet the bleakness of the urban landscape - in this case, New York - does everything to fuel a nihilistic and seemingly hopeless outlook. 'Stuck 1' presents the looped clatter of the street and a singing police siren alongside a cut up synth string bed that can never get off the ground, ultimately faltering and giving way to the city din.
The vast majority of the tracks aren't, however, instrumental. After 'Fake Pain', autotune actually dissipates, and we more often than not hear Ferraro's voice in all its imperfect glory. He quivers and hobbles around the notes, but never really hits them. His tone is an adopted facsimile of radio-friendly pop singing, characterising Ferraro the singer as something of an X Factor contestant type. Symbolically, there's no other stereotype that better typifies the modern day hell in which Ferraro's album resides: falsely confident, brainwashed by auto-tune and several dozen Now! compilations into assuming they can sing, drunk, stoned, wired in.
'Cheek Bones' is possibly the catchiest of the record's crunk dirges, with Ferraro painfully spewing lyrical about cigarettes giving him cancer, and not wanting to get said cancer. The closing triptych of 'Vanity', 'Irreplaceable' and 'Nushawn' see the introversion take a gradual and menacing about turn. 'Vanity' loops and juts along, fleshing out an amateurish beat with a menagerie of lopsided samples presented as musical furniture. 'Irreplaceable' treads a submerged two-chord path for 6 full minutes, Ferraro pining once more and adding occasional glockenspiel notes. The climactic 'Nushawn' twists the album's tale into something wholly more menacing. A choice cut from Patrick Bateman's many stone cold lines in American Psycho and a looped slice of Bernard Hermann's chilling Taxi Driver score underpin wordless vocal lines, autotuned out of recognition, and ultimately hinting at a murderous, psychotic climax in the life of NYC Hell's protagonist.
While still destined to divide his audience, with the excruciating and brilliant NYC Hell, 3:00AM, James Ferraro has quietly and calmly made some of the most affecting and intoxicating music of his career. Years of prolific drone explorations, the lessons learned on Far Side Virtual, and the near-pop sensibilities of Cold and Sushi all merge into something new here. Deceptively dense, this music unravels at a snail's pace, and repeat listens also reveal the man's sick skill with illogical hooks. The drone of the city, the neon lights of ubiquitous branding and the horror of a modern life spent rotting away behind a laptop are all captured perfectly by Ferraro's uniquely harrowing surrealism. - Tristan Bath 

James Ferraro by Catlin Snodgrass

James Ferraro discusses DIY aesthetics, apocalyptic visions, and his new album NYC, HELL 3:00 AM.

In November 2011, James Ferraro flooded a stack of end-of-year-best-of lists with the sharply produced sound-abstraction Far Side Virtual. The laptop-produced masterstroke spawned a slew of genre-bending digital releases and an ongoing discussion surrounding its conceptual themes. Ferraro has kept out of the race for editorial consensus, instead keeping himself busy pushing toward totally new vistas in music.
Since his days releasing scummy CD-Rs as a member of pioneering noise duo The Skaters, the music world has been paying close attention to Ferraro’s activity. His latest opus NYC, HELL 3:00 AM is out on October 15 by way of LA-based electronic label Hippos in Tanks. In this follow-up to last April’s online mixtape release Cold, Ferraro continues to work his moody, atmospheric deconstructions into a framework of cultural critique—describing in disturbing detail the psychological structure and decay of the American consumer economy.
James discussed the album’s dark matter, his fascination with post-apocalyptic dystopias, and how the landscape of his mind has changed since Far Side Virtual.

Catlin Snodgrass So you’re back in LA?
James Ferraro Yeah, I came to LA to record Far Side.
CS And you decided to stay?
JF Yeah, it kind of set itself up like that. My label’s out here in LA so I’m back-and-forth between here and New York a lot. I was also working on projects that were related to Far Side so it kept me out here for a little bit longer. But I’m out here post this album, NYC, HELL, to kind of get out of the inferno a little bit.
CS Does the change in environment have an effect on what you’re producing?
JF They’re kind of both their own thing. There’s a distinction, but I’m inspired by both places.
CS You’ve spoken a lot in the past about expressionism in music and it being a canvas for audio art. Obviously your work is heavily conceptual. What’s on NYC, HELL’s canvas?
JF There are so many concepts that are inherently a part of the process. There’s a kind of iconoclast thing going on with this one. A lot of things to do with how the media affects emotions and how it creates an emotional environment or a stratosphere for human interaction. It has a lot to do with how these experiences are intertwined with life and how they all work in collaboration with each other.
CS FADER called Eternal Condition/Stuck 2 “a scene in a really depressing movie.”
JF It’s not necessarily that. People’s thresholds for intense emotions and pain are different. I assume some people will feel that way, but other people might feel empowered by it.
CS There’s been an obvious shift in mood from Far Side and Condo Pets’s glossy, glamorous aesthetic to darker themes of misery and chaos. What sparked the temperature change?
JF To be honest, my mood and my inspirations for this album were really similar to Far Side. There all the things that I take from culture. Far Side was masked in this glossy elevator Muzak kind of sound. You hear the gloss, but beyond that is this darker reality of what’s really going on in culture. HELL was more of a personal story. I allowed myself to look deeper.
CS Is it as much of an intellectual effort?
JF I can’t really say that because it’s an expression that came from me. They both came from the same place. I can definitely see how people can create a distention between the different albums, but for me they’re in heavy conversation with each other.
CS To me, there’s a sound distinction. It seems like you’re playing on a lot of hazy R’n’B deconstructions in your newer releases, particularly with Cold.
JF I think maybe that’s just in my blood. Maybe those sounds come out of me because of who I am and what I love. I just allow myself to have complete freedom and that’s what came from it. People are going to interpret it however they want.
CS What did you listen to growing up?
JF Everything from rap to classical. My parents had really amazing taste and my father is a record collector so he always had different records on deck. Because he was a DJ I heard everything. I love it all. It’s hard for me to narrow it down to a particular genre.
CS So you come from a musical background?
JF Yeah, my father was a musician and my mom was a vocalist so they sort of rubbed off on me. My dad was really supportive. He was always working on his own musical projects, playing in a lot of bands. He was a DJ in Rochester, NY for a little bit. It’s always been a part of my life.
CS When did you start recording?
JF In high school. I used to make beats on this thing called MTV Music Generator for PlayStation. It was deep. I used to make beats on that program with all my friends in middle school.
CS I feel like a lot of writers have the false perception that your work is heavily laced in stock commercial Muzak samples and recycled sound bites.
JF Yeah, people think that I sample but I don’t. I actually never use samples. I sample my own sources of sounds. I use AT&T Natural Voices and text-to-speech generators so it’s all original content.
CS There’s a strong emphasis in your work on the by-products of consumerism. Can you talk about where that comes from?
JF What that means, as far as I relate to my own art, is that I like to think about signs reaching a point of excess when they begin to lose meaning.
CS Excess to the degree that it becomes something frightening?
JF Yeah, that sense of excessive repetition, something that originally has meaning but then starts to lose it through repetition. At that stage it becomes something entirely different. Icons and symbols are things that really interest me. That’s a heavy part of how I begin to work.
CS Your records evoke a pretty dystopian scenario.
JF Yeah, I think life is pretty dystopian. But I allow it to be both. That’s the potential of people.
CS That presents an interesting point of discussion: that our nightmares or fears are the benchmark for our aesthetic interests.
JF Yeah, people have been working with those themes since the beginning of theater, literature, and philosophy. We love apocalyptic scenarios.
CS Your work seems to be as grounded in an image as it is a sound experience.
JF Absolutely. It’s a lot like the sampling. What I use the image for is to lift away from the original meaning of something and to show how it affects the essence. Tabloids are a great example of that.
CS What was the image in your mind when recording this album?
JF For this record, I was really interested in 9/11 and surveillance footage and how the image stands on its own with a separate meaning from the actual event, like how we judge criminals based on an image rather their actions. When it comes to social, emotional, and economical dimensions, the image is usually what sums it all up. I think it’s interesting how society has fallen on that as something reliable. The thing about that, is that it was just from my raw experience of what’s around me: subway stations, trash on the ground, rats, everything that was around me at that time. I accumulated the material for the album as I went on. I went into it totally blind and at the end I realized I was making a record about these things.
CS So it all starts with visuals?
JF I would call it a vision.
CS Conceptual or aesthetic?
JF Definitely both. For this record, a lot of my own personal rules changed. I allowed myself to step back and let it be. Far Side was much more controlled, whereas NYC, HELL is about letting go of control and seeing what comes out.
CS Was it a surprise to you?
JF In a lot of ways it was. It was a raw sculpture or a living thing, because it was living along side of me as it was manifesting itself.
CS That’s the most honest way to make music.
JF Yeah, when it has a life of its own.
CS After a long stint as an instrumentalist of sorts, your vocal arrangements have been taking center stage lately. How did that come about?
JF It was just natural. My solo work is all more instrumental, but in The Skaters I used my voice a lot because it was our main instrument. I’ve always sung, and that theme of letting go helped it come into the picture. Separating myself from it, I would say one of the central themes of HELL is the power of money and how it acts as a god in a society that is built on the worship of money. If you think about the lyrics as a stage for these things, then they definitely represent that.
CS Cold’s eighth track “Slave to The Rain” really seemed to propel the concept of that album forward.
JF Yeah, that song in particular has a double meaning. It’s “Slave to the Rain,” but also “Slave to Rain;” as in, the raining of money, and to rain emotionally. It has a lot to do with how society is dictated by money. Sexual interest in people and even emotional love is dictated by the power of money.
CS My personal favorite record of yours is Marble Surf, which people probably don’t bring up very often. Or often enough, rather. It kind of got dusted under the rug back in 2008. You have a lot of great material out there that’ll probably be revisited for a long time.
JF Thanks. There was no control over how my early stuff was put out into the world. I used to make CD-Rs and stuff to sell at shows. All that work comes from a really interesting time in my life. I love that period, just for that reason alone.
CS Being a part of a DIY community?
JF Yeah, the CD-R community really had its own scene. And with ??Marble Surf??—among the people that were into my music back then—did cause a little bit of stir because it was one of my very first efforts as a solo artist.

CS Are you always working on something?
JF Yeah. I’m recording all the time. It’s just a part of who I am. To always be writing music down and making melodies is the part of my being that expresses that.
CS You’ve always had a laptop-produced, DIY approach to making music. Do you generate most of your work from home?
JF NYC was recorded at an actual studio, but that’s different from anything I’ve done before. I really enjoyed that experience of having a space to create in. I don’t have any strategy or agenda, but I’d like to record in that environment more often.
CS Tracing your history from these kind of pastoral, hypnotic lo-fi releases to something much more high-def and pristine, really exposes your range as an artist and how you’re constantly changing. When do you become exhausted with a particular sound?
JF My perception of genre is that it seems like such an outdated way to consume art and music. The aesthetic, style, and ideas are always changing, but as far as switching sounds or genres, I don’t really think about it like that. I don’t get sick of any one sound. People never see the process, so when they hear the end result it might seem like I’m jumping from one thing to another. For example, I have Far Side Virtual 2 recorded, but I never put it out because it didn’t make sense to. It’s just all within me. I can’t really explain it. I’m interested in a lot of things and I feel like I’m everything at once. At the end of the day, music classification and genres made sense at one time, but in 2013 I don’t think they have that much meaning. Even post-modernism is an outdated theme because we live in a post-modern culture. In the ’60s, the Beatles even killed that concept with baroque pop. At the time that might have been seen as how an artist today will have multiple styles, but in the next ten years, I don’t think people will even think about music like that.
CS How do you think they’ll perceive it in the future?
JF They’ll probably think of it in purely aesthetic terms.
CS With every album, it feels like you’re on the working in a totally new genre, which is why your sound has been so hard to peg.
JF I’ve definitely been called a lot of things, and as soon as those things die out, I’m a new thing. I think that’s a part of being yourself and doing what you want to do. If people are into something, they’ll create a world around those works.
CS Like the vaporwave movement.
JF People have talked to me about vaporwave. It sounds really interesting and I like to hear other people’s take on it. Apparently it’s a post-Far Side concept. I mean, there’s so much shit going on in the music world, it’s hard to keep up. But I’m just an artist, and I create what I create. It’s hard to speak about it beyond that because I feel like it’s too early to say. I’ve been making music a long time, and started with The Skaters when I was 17. I was really young back then and things change. My ideas are different now.
I like the name though. The name is cool.
CS From what I understand, you don’t perform live very often.
JF That’s changing. I’m booking shows and planning tours now, but I was going through a period where I was purely focusing on writing music. Luckily I did because I’m happy with the results. It’s been a transition period, so I think I’ll do a lot more now.
CS In an ideal world, would you play more shows?
JF Absolutely. The Skaters and I were on a 3-year tour and it was a nice break from recording. So definitely. I love playing shows.
CS With the exception of The Skaters and Lamborghini Crystal, you’re mostly a one-man operation, but are there any artists you you’d like to collaborate with?
JF Also Bodyguard, which is Sean Bowie from Teams, and me. Do you know Teams?
CS Oh right. Is that project active?
JF Yeah it’s definitely still active. As far as collaborating, I’d say yes, on a production level, maybe with certain producers. But as far as other artists, there are a lot of people I haven’t met yet. There are plenty of artist I’d love to know and have that conversation with though. I’d say Arca, Dean Blunt, you know, people that are on my same squad and are peers of mine. I feel really blessed to be surrounded by artists like that.
CS You usually construct an album with a particular listening format in mind. What format was NYC, HELL intended to be heard on?
JF Any format. It’s night music though.

James Ferraro Sushi FACT review


“Sushi is designer, Sushi is my obsessions, my darkness, it’s just my life squeezed into my music” - James Ferraro
Ever soundbite conscious, It’s incredibly easy to imagine James Ferraro embellishing a really quite normal lifestyle with as much Zoolander outrageousness as possible. It is, of course, part of what makes him an interesting and infuriating artist. However, while those incensed by Ferraro’s divisive 2011 album Far Side Virtual and subsequent, at times even more ridiculous pseudonym projects will probably be irritated by Sushi too, the effect is likely to be less so; it’s unusually digestible.
Eschewing previous extremes, on his latest release it seems Ferraro has climbed down from the grotesque bombast of BEBETUNE$, worked through the tamer, if just as fitful BODYGUARD, and is now far more focused on what r‘n’b and hip hop have to offer than what he can inflate through satire and manic reverence. Having found a useful metaphor, Sushi neatly encapsulates the sound of the record, seizing upon the strange fascination Western culture still levels at the unique elements of Japan; the adoption of certain cultural traits, like sushi, microtechnology and intensive design, while more accepted today are still considered exclusive, even elitist.
It makes sense then that this sense of wonder translates into a sound that oozes “Ferraro does original movie score to an expensive club scene/’: a talented, though highly idiosyncratic composer instructed to soundtrack the big boss’s gangster hang out, all cool white and blue lighting, uzis, T shirts and blazers. Obviously it’s situated in Tokyo / LA / NYC / wherever you want. Even that place in the Czech Republic Vin Diesel goes to in XXX, if Orbital hadn’t got there first.
The result sounds like Ferraro has been listening to a lot of Mike Will, Ryan Hemsworth, Mykki Blanco, Kuedo, Late Nights With Jeremih and, most comparably, labelmates Nguzunguzu, though there appears to be an attempt, whether intentional or not, at creating a distinct sound signature similar to the trademarks of revered producers, rather than simply cramming in as much of what is on Ferraro’s mind at any one time.
Rave and horn stabs, re-pitched vocal chirrups, time-stretched diva vocals and rattling hi-hats (though none of a BEBETUNE$ intensity) all clamour and fall over themselves for attention, but in a surprisingly controlled manner for Ferraro. Sure, it’s messy too, but not as much as, say, Otto Von Shirach’s Maxipad Detention. The oddest element is definitely the abundance of synth chimes and bell tones providing a distinct patience very reminiscent of Mark Fell. At first it’s difficult to envisage anyone actually playing these tracks in a club, especially as the production quality isn’t overly professional. But things get weirder as the album progresses and it quickly becomes more like, well… a ‘normal’ record.
Opener ‘Powder’ is strong, but it’s at track six, ‘Lovesick’, that the record hits its stride.  From here, ‘E 7’ (probably not a shout out to Forest Hill) has every potential to be a serious weapon if voiced by someone like Main Attrakionz; ‘SO N2U’ is a strong NY / Philly referencing house track, ‘Condom’ sounds like a hip-hop Drexciya, and the updated ’80s ballad sound of ‘Bootycall’ sounds like something that could be released on Software.
For all the curveballs that Ferraro has persisted in throwing to date, Sushi is probably the straightest – and therefore probably the weirdest too. Simply by showing that he can produce an album where over half of the content shrugs off his syncretistic ‘outsider’ character and engages fully with the influences and ideas at hand, it’s an interesting change of direction, and arguably a good one too. Give it a listen, you might be surprised. -Steve Shaw 

 Rapture Adrenaline

"James Ferraro, the crazed mastermind behind the Tiny Mix Tapes-praised Far Side Virtual (TMT Review), has made a movie called Rapture Adrenaline. It is 94 minutes long. FACT reports that it is now out on DVD, albeit in a limited quantity of 500 copies. And, though they do not come out and simply say it, they also report that it is the greatest movie ever made. Let’s go to the bullet points:• Sleazy television station called Hell-TV.
• Sleazy television station called Hell-TV that is run by someone named Acid Eagle.
• A character named Professor Pizza who may or may not be the same person as Acid Eagle, because the description is very confusing.
• Brutally murdered police officer reborn as super-human cyborg.
• Rochester.
• Driver taken hostage by seatbelt.
• A robot that becomes smarter and more dangerous and puts a boy and his friends in danger.
And more. The movie came out on VHS last year and everyone who watched it is now dead, not because they killed themselves, but because their bodies simply didn’t see the point of living after watching it. In the present moment, you can buy the DVD here. Do so only if you possess no fear of your body snuffing out its own flame of life." - E. Nagurney

"Limited to 500 copies. Includes "Welcome To Candyland" exclusive interview** James Ferraro's makes his much-anticipated cinematic debut on the "94 minute epic science-action movie" 'Rapture Adrenaline'. "Set in a crime-ridden Rochester, New York in the near future, Rapture Adrenaline centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg. The main plot of the movie revolves around a "Bug" (code word for a member of an alien species that is similar in many ways to a very large cockroach) searching for a miniature galaxy which is also a vast energy source. "Acid Eagle" is the president of Hell-TV (Channel 83, Cable 12), a sleazy television station specialising in sensationalistic programming. Displeased with his station's current lineup (which consists mostly of softcore pornography), Professor Pizza is on a seemingly endless quest for something that will "break through" to a new audience. The rescue turns out to be a fake; the two climbers are taken prisoner by a group of ruthless thieves. The driver is now a hostage trapped by his own seatbelt. However, the robot becomes smarter and more dangerous as it plays putting the boy and his friends in mortal danger. In addition to being an action film, the movie includes larger themes regarding the media, resurrection, gentrification, corruption, and human nature." Unfortunately we've not had a chance to watch it all, but a quick flick thru tells us this is a proper trip..." - Boomkat

15.00 - On Sale

(+ Extra "Welcome To Candyland" Exclusive Interview)
Limited Edition 500 Copies
Originally released on a limited critically acclaimed VHS edition,
this succulent re-issue present an exclusive extra, WELCOME TO CANDYLAND, an interview with the author and, at the same time, an exciting voyage through some cult virtual-hyper-reality-simulacro. The OJ chase, Hollywood forever cemetery, Dr. Phil are just some ingredients of this delicious visual trippy cake.
The movie RAPTURE ADRENALINE is an educational mixtape program, a cyber marine combat training video designed through primitive editing techinques. Operating mythological transformations of popular movie iconography, it reaches the merging point of the magical and the political.
Co-production between HUNDEBISS VISIONS & MUSIC CITY
YTB COMMERCIAL: http://youtu.be/JxweGPLtcCA

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