Release Date: Nov 6, 2012
Record label: Hippos in Tanks
James Ferraro's work is usually about layers, both in its dense sound and in the multiple meanings behind that sound. Some of his early releases were so murky and obscure that it was tough to sort through it all and glean his intentions. Yet when his music got ostensibly clearer and more accessible on last year's Far Side Virtual, the layers only seemed to get denser.
It’s taken a long time for popular music to embrace postmodernism. It might be argued that the form is in itself postmodern, but the ludic, self-reflexive techniques that characterise postmodern literature have only properly emerged in pop (or at least have only received critical attention) quite recently. As movements like vaporwave and hypnagogic pop emerge and provide new, playful ways to reimagine the way music is consumed in the 21st century, one artist whose work has remained at the centre of these interesting directions is James Ferraro.
James Ferraro’s last ‘proper’ album n- that is to say the last one not presented as a mixtape - was a wildly divisive work. In fact, 2011’s Far Side Virtual even divided many of those who wrote about it on their own terms, never mind amongst each other. Variations on 'this might drive you bananas, but it’s pretty unique' or 'it sounds like the shallowest reflection of 2K10s consumer culture...
James FerraroSushi[Hippos In Tanks; 2012]By Josh Becker; November 16, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetEarlier this year, James Ferraro released a free mixtape entitled Silica Gel under his Bodyguard moniker. With track titles like “SEX TAPE” and "RAIDEN - BLUE LIGHTS # NZT - 48" (mind the caps), it was a messy Soundcloud-fi opus dedicated to bedroom r&b and internet inanity, and while not entirely without merit, it was definitely among his least memorable efforts to date. Well, now he’s back with a new James Ferraro album proper, and it follows in that mixtape’s footsteps.
If nothing else, James Ferraro’s latest LP has a particularly apposite title. The eleven tracks that comprise this album are lean and stylish: a series of brief, well-crafted instrumentals touching down on a number of genres of electronic music, from hip hop to house to Chicago footwork. Yet, just like its culinary namesake, Sushi’s collection of miniatures does little to coalesce into a coherent whole, instead constituting a fragmented mosaic of isolated musical moments.