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James Ferraro – Manhattan Future Ocean

Andrei Cucu

Finally, something new from the harsh, wicked yet extremely phantasmal world of James Ferraro. Last week saw a new post on the enigmatic yet, seemingly preferred medium, his soundcloud page, namely the song Manhattan Future Ocean. The title strongly hints to his 2013 NYC, HELL 3:00 am and is another type of journey through New York that he forces upon you. On NYC, HELL 3:00 am, Ferraro heavily shoved all the grit, dirt and nastiness he could into quite a number of songs, painting a grim picture of what one could expect while wandering through the city that never sleeps. Deep stinky smells, looped ads and robotic voices talking about money greeted you from the start, and whatever light shone through came only from neon lit spaces void of anything or anyone. The songs were pretty far from being traditional beat oriented music, focusing more on the ability of the chosen samples to transmit the desolate and deeply terrifying NYC streets.

Manhattan Future Ocean, however, comes as quite a surprise. Its 9 minute length is already something unexpected for a Ferraro piece, his works usually coming in bite sized chunks underlining our very limited consumerist attention span. Far Side Virtual wanted the dissect the ubiquity of technology while also reviving the old school windows sound (and thus laying the groundwork for what would soon fill all of tumblr – the much disputed vaporwave), Sushi focused more on a musical approach than on a conceptual one, and his latest major soundcloud free downloadable collection, Suki Girlz, worked rather like a sketchbook of possible beats. Which is also why Manhattan Future Ocean seems promising.

If Suki Girlz sounded rather like an exercise, MFO seems very focused. The first part is surprisingly coherent and musical in a classical sense, being a arrangement of a string ensemble and a piano. While somehow melancholy, it still has a glimmer of hope, like a bittersweet indie movie about lovable, highly intellectual losers. Yet the production hints at what is to come. The piano is sent somewhere into a concrete room, while the strings all sound a little too on cue. After a few bars you realize just how programmed the whole section is. Then around the middle of the song, the glaring, incendiary burst of Ferraroesque noise kicks in. At first your focus is still lagging behind on the beautiful strings, and the surprise disorientation is further amplified by the complete gibberish screaming at you. Then it slowly gathers into a re-purposed TV show intro swell, recognizable territory for Ferraro, and then further morphs into a frenzy of channel switching jumping back and forth between your speakers, and a voice tells you that the story is going to happen in Manhattan.

Hopefully, this is a sign of more to come, and as opposed to Suki Girlz, this new single can show some interesting LP developments. If you like Woody Allen’s Manhattan, but always wanted to see it through a post-internet, glitched up kaleidoscopic lens, here’s your chance.

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Andrei CucuJames Ferraro – Manhattan Future Ocean

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