New Criticals

(NYC Hell, 3:00am LP cover)

NYC Hell 3:00am. A place, a time, an idea. The new album by James Ferraro is as rooted in this sense of time and place, as it obscures it. The album uses the imagery it evokes as a means of expressing tormented innervisions, which (as the title implies) are shared ones. Its 16 songs reflect a strange duality, of feeling disconnected from and yet somehow apart of, a common metropolitan narrative. It’s like a reimagined hypnagogic soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. It travels through physical and psychological corridors of insanity, parody, vulgarity and consumerist critique all in the same breath. After all, the first words and last words you hear on the album, spoken by despondent droids, are money and American violence.

James Ferraro comes from a generation of pop artists classified as "vaporwave", an internet micro-scene of like-minded artists who express ambivalence at the fragmentation of life itself at the hands of the digitalization and the mass commercialization of everything. It's a Tumblr-esque collection of the outdated sonics of muzak and late 80’s smooth jazz, paired with the iconography of discarded pop culture artifacts like big budget sci-fi movies, clip art and commercials. By sampling our cultural runoff and fetishizing forgotten machines of the past, a new kind of electronic music movement was born in the late aughts, a strange yet playful online subculture. James Ferraro is the movement’s progenitor.