New Criticals

Far Side Virtual is perhaps Ferraro’s best-known project. It was The Wire Magazine’s favorite album of 2011. But Ferraro isn’t a new artist by any stretch. The popularity of Far Side Virtual came after a dizzying number of independent releases, mainly on CD-R and cassette and he was already a staple in the lo-fi underground music scene. Using the tools of commodification like the kind of cheesy keyboard sounds you’d hear scoring a corporate informational VHS, Far Side Virtual like all of James Ferraro’s music communicates what is already visible in mass culture: Rapture, terror, comedy, revelation, aloneness.

Repurposing sounds, and feelings from and about techno-culture makes him a peer of another digital excavator Oneohtrix Point Never. OPN also uses digital technology to the point of Dada-esque abstraction, expressing at once computers’ capacity for representation and its shortcomings. I saw the two artists together in concert once in 2010. Opening for Oneohtrix Point Never, Ferraro played subtle keyboard chord variations on top of a noticeably out-of-time drum loop. His (anti) performance became increasingly more ludicrous (his acid washed jean-on-jean attire and his afro not withstanding) yet entrancing by the minute. As I became more zoned out and captivated by his keyboard drones, unaware of the time that had elapsed, he concluded after 30 minutes, never once deviating from this one idea for the entire duration of the set. Just that one beat and those dated synth sounds. This is the kind of détournement that's par for the course on Hell NYC 3:00am his newest album.