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James Ferraro

James Ferraro
Ferraro performing in 2012
Ferraro performing in 2012
Background information
Also known asBebetune$, Bodyguard, Edward Flex, K2, Lamborghini Crystal
Born (1986-11-07) November 7, 1986 (age 37)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Genres
Instrument(s)Synthesizer, computer, sampler, piano, vocals
Years active2004–present
LabelsHippos in Tanks, Olde English Spelling Bee, New Age Tapes, Holy Mountain
WebsiteJames Ferraro on Bandcamp

James Ferraro (born November 7, 1986) is an American experimental musician, producer, composer and contemporary artist. He has been credited as a pioneer of the 21st century genres hypnagogic pop and vaporwave, with his work exploring themes related to hyperreality and consumer culture. His music has drawn on diverse styles such as 1980s electronic music, easy listening, drone, lo-fi, sound collage, and R&B.

Ferraro began his career in the early 2000s as a member of the Californian noise duo The Skaters, after which he began recording solo work under his name and a wide variety of aliases.[2][3] He released projects on labels such as Hippos in Tanks and New Age Tapes.[2] Ferraro received wider recognition when his polarizing 2011 album Far Side Virtual was chosen as Album of the Year by The Wire.[4]

Biography

Early life and The Skaters

Ferraro was born in Rochester, New York to Italian and African-American parents.[5] He came from a musical background;[6] his father was a musician, DJ, and record enthusiast while his mother was a singer.[6] He began making instrumentals in high school with the program MTV Music Generator (1999).[6] When Ferraro was 18, he moved from New York to San Diego, California, where he met Spencer Clark.[7] He explained that "we had this conversation and it ended with us collaborating on visual art and paintings and stuff together."[7]

When Ferraro was 20, he formed a drone noise music project[8] with Clark called The Skaters and the two recorded music for a year under the moniker.[7] After a year of recording, they began touring around the country and issued releases from that year of recording.[7] Physicalities Of The Sensibilities Of Ingrediential Stairways (2008), issued on Eclipse Records, was the last record released by the Skaters.[7]

Solo career

Ferraro started the label New Age Tapes to release his own solo work; his early solo material was often released under myriad pseudonyms such as Lamborghini Crystal and Teotihuacan, and was often distributed as limited cassette or CD-Rs, although some LPs, such as Clear (2008) and Last American Hero (2008) on labels such as Holy Mountain Records and Olde English Spelling Bee.[2] According to AllMusic's Paul Simpson, these early recordings "explored everything from gamelan to drone to lo-fi Casio pop," and were associated with the 2000s "hypnagogic pop" trend by the media.[2] Around 2010, Ferraro's music developed an eccentric pop style on releases such as the high-school themed Night Dolls with Hairspray (2010).[2] He also collaborated on the 2011 RVNG ambient album collaboration FRKWYS 7 with Daniel Lopatin, David Borden, Laurel Halo, and Sam Godin.[2]

With the release of his polarizing 2011 album Far Side Virtual [9] on Hippos in Tanks, Ferraro's work abruptly embraced MIDI music technology and corporate Muzak.[2] Beginning as a series of ringtones, the album was met with both praise and derision from critics, and was named Album of the Year by UK experimental magazine The Wire; it was interpreted as "providing a postmodern critique on consumer culture, retro-futurism, and hyperreality", and along with Lopatin's Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1 would go on to influence the 2010s Internet genre vaporwave, which explored similar themes.[2] Following the release of Far Side Virtual, Ferraro's work became increasingly influenced by contemporary hip hop and R&B, as evidenced on albums such as Sushi (2012), NYC, Hell 3:00 AM (2013), and Skid Row (2015).[2] He also released digital downloads under aliases such as Bebetune$ and Bodyguard. His 2016 album Human Story 3 returned to themes explored on Far Side Virtual.[2]

In August 2017, Ferraro's multimedia art exhibition Extinction Renaissance premiered at the Loyal Gallery in Stockholm, Sweden.[10] Ferraro also released a limited edition musical piece, 'Anthrospray: Music for Extinction Renaissance', on USB credit cards through the Loyal Gallery's website. On November 26, 2017, Ferraro digitally released Troll, a five-track EP.[11] In February 2018, Ferraro officially premiered Plague, an opera with scenography by Nate Boyce, at the 2018 transmediale festival. The work starred German actor Christoph Schüchner as an "undead" Steve Jobs, "the surrogate of a deranged AI, a data mongrel comprised of all our networked activity", and also featured chorales by PHØNIX16.[12] On May 18, 2018, Ferraro digitally released Four Pieces for Mirai, an EP working as the first part of and the prologue to the ongoing 'body of work' and project of the same name. Ferraro was featured and interviewed on the 416th cover of The Wire, October 2018.

Artistry

Ferraro has created music since the mid-2000s, initially with Spencer Clark as The Skaters. His style has ranged from drone music and noise music with a lo-fi ethos[7] to sound collages.[13] His works are known for being conceptual in nature and for uniquely expressing specific modern subjects; his albums have incorporated themes of consumerism, cybernetics, emaciation, social experience, hyperreality,[7] post-9/11 New York,[13] lo-fi counterculture,[7] and the collapse of civilization. His 2011 work Far Side Virtual is often credited for helping to spark the development of the internet-based micro-genre vaporwave, although he has not considered himself a part of its history.[14][15][16]

In a 2009 issue of The Wire, David Keenan characterized Ferraro as an progenitor of an emerging post-noise music style dubbed "hypnagogic pop", in which memory and nostalgia for retro formats (especially 1980s recording technology and culture) acted as a defining characteristic.[17][18]

Red Bull Music Academy described the concept of Ferraro's albums as regarding the "dark underbelly of masculine culture in the digital age."[7] Most of Ferraro's records take place in dystopian environments, focusing on the consequences of consumerism.[6] According to Ferraro, the consumerism concept of his albums came from his interest in "signs" and "symbols" and the fact that they lose their identity due to "excessive repetition."[6] His works have been compared to theories of French sociologist Jean Baudrillard, who stated that only "symbols" and "signs" have destroyed any sort of real meaning and that human activity is "only a simulation of reality."[19]

The sounds Ferraro uses are those that humans encounter but are not aware of.[19] These include television jingles, cell phone ringtones and ATM noises.[19] Robert Grunenberg of Ssense characterized the sounds as "communicational tools" between humans and electronics that are "informing, warning, or pleasing" humans.[19] He also writes that "the shelf life of electronic audio rarely surpasses that of your average milk carton. And so, his compilations become a nostalgic sound archive of the near-past."[19] Overall, Grunenberg analyzed that concepts of Ferraro's sound palette was that "as much as we are living under the dominance of our visual culture, we are greatly affected by the powers of our audio culture as well."[19] Ferraro symbolized the nostalgia element that comes out of these "near-past" sounds as "the decline of American prosperity, a ghost of a once-superpower that is dying."[19] In making an album, Ferraro says that he comes up with a "vision" or an imaginary visual picture of what it will be.[6] He explained in a 2012 interview, "I try not to be overly conceptual about what I’m doing. You can contrive it to a point where it gets too heady. Music wise, I try to be careful."[8] When interviewed by Bomb magazine on the subject of sampling in 2013, Ferraro said, "I sample my own sources of sounds. I use AT&T Natural Voices and text-to-speech generators so it's all original content."[6]

Discography

As James Ferraro

Studio albums

Year Title
2007 Alternative Soundtrack To: Scream in Blue Surf Video
2008 Clear
Discovery
Marble Surf
Multitopia
Postremo Mundus Techno-Symposium
Virtual Erase
Last American Hero / Adrenaline's End
2009 Heaven's Gate
Genie Head Gas in the Tower of Dreams (Jesters Midnight Toys)
KFC City 3099: Pt.1 Toxic Spill
Star Digital Theatre: Movies for P.T. Cruisers
Jarvid 9: Flushpipe
Jarvid 9: Gecko
Jarvid 9: Kava Jar Race
Body Fusion 1
Body Fusion 2
Rerex 1
Rerex 2
iAsia
Son Of Dracula
Wild World
Hacker Track
2010 Pixarni
Feed Me
On Air
Night Dolls With Hairspray
iAsia 2 Raver
2011 Far Side Virtual
2012 Sushi
2013 NYC, Hell 3:00 AM
2015 Skid Row
2016 Human Story 3
2017 Anthrospray: Music for Extinction Renaissance
Speed
2019 Requiem For Recycled Earth
2020 Neurogeist
2021 Terminus
They Don't Know It's Christmas
2023 Concerto I for Strings
Concerto II for Strings
2024 Genware I: DIHCRO
Genware II: Eigen Embyro
Genware III: Neuralpaint

Mixtapes

Year Title
2013 Cold

Compilations

Year Title
2009 Citrac
2016 Rerex

Extended plays

Year Title
2011 Condo Pets
2012 Hurting
2013 God Of London
2014 Eco – Savage Suite
LAPD (Extended Motifs)
1 WTC
2015 War
FUKU-TONE
2016 Burning Prius ®
2017 Fanfare for the Boston Marathon 2017
Troll
2018 Four Pieces for Mirai (Overture)

As Lamborghini Crystal

Studio Albums

Year Title
2006 1992 Cool Runnings
Lamborghini Crystal
2007 Clock Tower Acid
Demon Channels (Radio Demons)
Dial: 747 Creepozoid
Draco-Shop Bop Vol. 1
Little Deuce Coupe T.V. Dinners
Roach Motel
Smoking Out His Majesties UFO
2008 Refried Demon Channels

Compilations

Year Title
2007 Alien Microwave

Releases under other aliases

Studio albums

Year Title Alias released under
2004 Cruisin' the Nightbiker Strip 1977 Cruisin' the Nightbiker Strip 1977
2005 Sunbrain Albino (Aquarium Temples) 8pashupatinath
Acid Eagle Acid Eagle
Newage Panther Mistique Newage Panther Mistique
Live Smokeshows From Inside the Ciguri Cave Hazed Diamonds With Windswept Hair Teotihuacán
Teotihuacán
2006 Dreams Dreams
Purple Gongs Purple Gongs
Pan als Allgott Saturnia, 1977 Pan als Allgott Saturnia, 1977
Wheel Of Heaven Snake Figures Fan
Composition of the Sensibilities of Melted Knowledge Composition of the Sensibilities of Melted Knowledge
2007 Body of Consciousness / Uguiya to Jeep by Iguana Greenwave Nirvana
Malanyang Nirvana Safari
Peyote Cactus Rituals Peyote Cactus Rituals
Slippery Beach Trashed Gamelan Splash
Prelude to Diminishing Forms Sky and Mirrorbalm in Preparation for Deja Vu
2008 D.M.T D.M.T
Infrared Roots
Chameleon Ballet K2
Dianetic Biodome
Encino Man: Cryogenic Awakening
Silicon Oasis
Alternative Soundtrack to "Digital Overdrive" Liquid Metal
Symbio Dome Symbio Dome

Mixtapes

Year Title Alias released under
2011 Inhale C-4 $$$$$ BEBETUNE$
2014 Suki Girlz User703918785

Extended plays

Year Title Alias released under
2005 Menstrual Chinese Dream Menstrual Chinese Dream
Boiling the Animal in the Sky The Wooden Cupboard
Palm Reading in the Sacred Universe Wilderness
Animals Speak the Spirit Tongue
2007 Observatory cg II & III (Coconut of Teotihuacan) Arecaceae

References

  1. ^ Johnson, Jason (October 14, 2013). "Experimental musician James Ferraro on his new album and its relationship with GTA V". Kill Screen. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Simpson, Paul. "Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  3. ^ Advisor, Resident. "RA: James Ferraro". ((cite web)): |last= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ "2011 Rewind Chart: Top 50 Releases of the Year - The Wire". The Wire Magazine - Adventures In Modern Music. Retrieved 2022-05-31.
  5. ^ Farrar, Justin F. "Into the Mystic". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Snodgrass, Catlin (October 16, 2013). "James Ferraro". Bomb. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Interview: James Ferraro And His Music Multiverse", Red Bull Music Academy, March 6, 2012, archived from the original on June 28, 2013, retrieved March 10, 2013
  8. ^ a b Allan, Ruth (July 6, 2012). "James Ferraro: Bodyguard". Dazed. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  9. ^ Music review: Replica from Oneohtrix Point Never and James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual-World Socialist Web Site
  10. ^ "James Ferraro Talks Phases, Fads and Fidget Spinners". 8 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Troll | James Ferraro". 26 November 2017. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  12. ^ "James Ferraro presents: Plague transmediale festival 2018".
  13. ^ a b "Q&A: James Ferraro On NYC's Hidden Darkness, Musical Sincerity, And Being Called "The God Of Vaporwave"". 11 October 2013.
  14. ^ Blanning, Lisa (April 5, 2013). "James Ferraro – Cold". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  15. ^ Bowe, Miles (October 13, 2013). "Q&A: James Ferraro On NYC's Hidden Darkness, Musical Sincerity, And Being Called "The God Of Vaporwave"". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  16. ^ Beks, Ash. "Vaporwave is not dead". The Essential. The Essential. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Keenan, Dave (2009). "Childhood's End". The Wire. No. 306.
  18. ^ Grandy, Eric. "Triumph of the Chill". The Stranger. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Grunenberg, Robert. "James Ferraro and Mall Aesthetics". Ssense. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
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James Ferraro
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