Review Summary: these would be terrible ringtones
A wise man once remarked "in the future, everything is chrome." Far Side Virtual
shows James Ferraro has been to the future, and everything is not chrome, according to his prophetic music. Oh sure, the sheen of "Adventures In Green Foot Printing" and "Linden Dollars" make it seem as though we're in for a utopian existence, but underneath the surface of these tracks lies an infrastructure waiting to unravel and explode as though all our credit card numbers and ATM cards will given out to hackers and persons of irreputable intent. Laid out through glossy synths and bareback beats is the corporatist mania that awaits us, wherein everything and everyone is advertised and your brain recalls information by using a Google search engine. Would we collectively want it any other way?
Probably not, because if this is the future, it sure is fu
cking fun. For how cheesy and unrelenting the sounds on this record are, they sure make you feel like dancing. The MIDI keyboard funk of "Tomorrow's Baby Of The Year" is bizarrely catchy and doesn't sound as awkward as Ferraro probably wanted to paint it, whether he was intending an head-scratching reaction or not. "Earth Minutes" has a build-up straight out of a Windows 95 training disc that climaxes into something resembling Sufjan Stevens as composed by Microsoft Sam and just as heartwarming as the Michigan prodigy. Far Side Virtual
does share its fair bit of stumbles though, like the awkward ending piece "Solar Panel Smile". A Nintendo Wii sample has no place being clustered with some of most goofy technology to exist in the 20th century, nor does it fit Ferraro's appropriation of Muzak that lets him toy with the past's interpretation of futuristic music. Maybe it's due to the Skype noise sounding so strange that "Global Lunch" works then? "Google Poeises" also feels like it needs some adderall, the track too claustrophobic for its own good so it keeps bouncing around, not working in the parameters of the modulated horns and drums. For once, a noisy track in an album as polished as this emotes a dismissive reaction, especially when the atmosphere Ferraro goes for is so committed to.
All credit where credit is due, James Ferraro certainly doesn't need to convince me that we're living in a society overrun by technology. In a world where everyone has smartphones, and Silicon Valley startups receive investment capital from investors not for brave and innovative concepts, but dime-a-dozen apps with the only goal being to cash in on a collective need to stay updated, Far Side Virtual
accomplishes making one feel as though they're straddled by hyperrealism and a fundamental lack of wonder in today's excessive conscious. What remains at the end of it all though, is the music, and it certainly delivers in not only being as wholly enjoyable as it is unsettling and fairly perplexing, but is a classic example of art perfectly encapturing the context in which it was made. Bravo, Mr. Ferraro, I'll toast a Starbucks coffee tomorrow in honor of your visions.