Review: James Ferraro - "Human Story 3"

James Ferraro - Human Story 3

If Eno composed Music for Airports, then Los Angeles-based artist James Ferraro may well have penned the muzak that billows through Lego Island's heliport. Skimming the kitschier smooth-jazz elements off the foam of his signature hynagogic pop brew, Ferraro's latest consumer-dystopian soundscape looks to the symphony rather than elevator interiors or unexplored crannies of
Soundcloud for aesthetic inspiration; his cinematic score for Human Story 3 evokes the populist grandeur of Copland, Glassworks' futurist tumult and perhaps most notably, the sort of canned MIDI charm that soundtracked the CD-ROM copy of Reader Rabbit that I used to play on the library computer in grade school.

Opening movement "Ten Songs For Humanity" feels like a spiritual successor to Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man": a bombastic humanist statement smuggled into the post-human world, meant to be streamed and enjoyed from the comfort of a comment section. There are no musicians on the stage, no bodies in the seats - to listen through a pair of earbuds is to be in direct communion with the the composer himself, the distraction of others' presences eliminated. It is an intimate void. The fleshiest entities housed within Human Story are its ageless, sexless voices that resemble the fractured documentary interview clips that litter Reich's and Korot's Dolly - Ferraro's pitch-shifted vocals don't so much set a narrative for his piece as they do act as a means of conversation with the audience. Ferraro urges "millenials and boomers" alike to look beyond hyper-individualization via smartphone innovation and highly customize-able latte purchases as a means of progress, and to redirect such technological advancements towards the public sphere. The Human Story ahead is a personal struggle between technology and a sense of self, an exploration of the final frontier beyond space itself and into the intangible nuances of human interaction.

It's the 21st century's answer to Vangelis' space-age synth tapestries - science fiction music that's as ambient as it is brimming with potential energy. Trembling ripples of Hans Zimmer tension pool beneath new age piano condensation on "GPS and Cognition"; "Anthropoceniac" is an ant farm full of scuttling Rococo flute riffs that vaguely remind me of those that inhabit "Peter and the Wolf"; community college commercial minimalism pervades all. Whether an alternate universe counterpart to the final installment of Toy Story or the third version of a large scale MMORPG, Human Story 3 is an excitingly uncertain vision for the future that just so happens to make for a surprisingly pleasant listen.