Saturday, April 26, 2008
James Ferraro - Edward Flex Presents: Maui Black Out/Liquid Bikini (New Age Tapes / Pacific City Studios CD-R)
Yet another period of non-posting has passed (sorry, again) and another James Ferraro solo release slated for review. This one is the only other Skaters item I was able to snag at that show I've already discussed too much but why not beat a dead horse right? It already being dead and all...
Edward Flex Presents: Maui Black Out/Liquid Bikini is, like Roach Motel, a crudely packaged, crudely produced, and just plain crude sounding trip into the metal riffage alien lands of Mr. Ferraro. Really, the ripped 80s muscle maiden next to the Budweiser can on the cover says it all--Ferraro's universe continues to be a steroid infused party world. Hard rocking pummel sessions spin themselves over and over as voices repeat "go" (or some similarly fist-pumping phrase) ad infinitum while pauses in the sound lead to further digressions, some of them featuring odd scraping percussion over weird funky bass riffs while others sound like the score to a cop show that I might actually be interested in seeing.
It just occurred to me that at the show Spencer described his own sound as "coconut drone," which really was right on the mark. But he might have nailed it even harder in calling Ferraro's breed "cyber tropical." Like some weird Bacchanalian beach party twenty-five million light years directly above Cancun and in whatever year featured similar aesthetic sensibilities to our own 1986.
This one actually got the Tip of the Tongue treatment over at Volcanic Tongue not too long ago, and it isn't really hard to see why. Whereas Roach Motel seemed like an exploration of this certain sound, Edward Flex Presents: Maui Black Out/Liquid Bikini shows Ferraro hitting his stride. If he was hanging at the tiki lounge before, now he's bartending. I guess.
I know I'm spending a lot of time discussing the overall sound and avoiding getting into specifics. In my defense it's no cop-out; this is wiley stuff that jumps all over the map. The feel is unified, but the 71 minute track goes all over the place. Sometimes there's minimal stuff with humming electronics, monkey sounds, weird droning high-pitched mayhem. Vocals are fairly regular in some form or another. But really the only constant is the party feel and the kinetic nature of the whole thing. It never sits in one place too long, like David Hasselhoff at a kegger. Are those dogs in the background or just boozed up knuckleheads imitating seals? Or both?
I guess what's really exciting about this stuff is that Ferraro, a staple of the contemporary noise and drone scene, has taken a chance with these records, and it sure doesn't seem like he's breaking a sweat over it either. Without missing a beat, the guy has created a sound that only he could pull off. Whereas too many noise/drone guys seem to hide behind a similar drone style that they may or may not be too scared and/or capable of drifting from, Ferraro creates an aesthetic that is solely his, and like it or not you have to admit that he has a pretty serious grasp on the approach.
As of late, Ferraro's been doing soundtracks to bad (or even non-existent) movies, and this kind of thing fits right in. Perfect stuff to pump when I'm cruising down the strip in my red Camaro. Hell, I might even pass as legit.
On second thought, probably not.