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James Ferraro – Far Side Virtual

Hippos In Tanks

History is a virus. A fifth horseman of the apocalypse. It’s brutal, beyond reason, full of rage and memory; brittle with the fear of being forgotten. It loves and hates it’s host. Nostalgia is a dish served cold and for a long time now people have been struggling against it, trying to reheat old spices (and Old Spices), attempting to blur their way out. But history is winning (had already won before the battle lines were drawn) and now we’re on the retreat, if unable to move. It’s coming (through the trees).

The virus comes in waves (but, what ends when the symptoms shatter?) and it can take a lot of shaking. You can struggle against the pre-settings, tread lightly around it or ironically through it or stomp all over its kindly old man face but you can’t avoid the inevitable and neither will you want to, when it comes to the end times. The eschaton will be immanentized (etc). And heaven is a tune you can whistle, a sound you’ve already heard, played endlessly and without motive. If you think you remember, you do. There’s no trick. At the end, you’ll lie back and laugh. It’ll make a Donnie Darko out of all of you.

Some resist longer, some even believe they haven’t started resisting yet – the Futurists are then, as now – some burrow themselves into a (w)hole, believe they’re not letting in any light at all, only to find that their dark isn’t a darkness at all, just another form of light, shone from the 60s, the 70s, the 80s. The light will tear them apart too, as it tears all of us.

James Ferraro wasn’t easy to catch. He flirted with the history virus for longer and harder than most. He played all the angles, tried to wrestle with the memories, tried to break them, to cover them in snot and grime and fuzz. He added nauseous waves of his own. Endless medicinal cassettes (themselves a symptom), CDRs, LPs have tumbled out, attempting to feed an antibody that was always just one protein shake off oblivion. His music has been magical at times and he’s played the sorcerer role well (even if he thought he was playing the alchemist), dabbling in Crowley magick, in Paris Workings, in symbols. He dabbled in motifs and tropes and Casio licks like Death In June dabbled in Eugenics and tooth and claw (but, what does end when the symbols shatter?). He fiddled in things he only thought he understood better than anyone else. He’s spawned numerous monsters, whose names cannot be said, whose names begin with the cross of H and end in Chris De Burgh, in daytime TV movies, in crane shots and stock footage of shopping malls and queues outside the Commodore 64 shop. He thought that he could iron out the creases of history, maybe even thought he would escape but he was always at the Event Horizon and now he’s falling further in. The light he’s shedding will be seen by us as glimmer, as sheen, as surface.

Now, he’s letting the virus in, he’s accepting it, embracing it, loving it even more than it needs. Far Side Virtual is what happens when the real embraces the real; when you stop remaking and start making. History has him. His memories have suddenly burst through, unclouded and almost free of hum and chatter. This is thick, glossy soundtracking. This isn’t ironic, no cosmic joke, nothing haunted. The thick Calpol gloop of history is here, shining.

Do I like it? Yeah, it’s brilliant. But then I’m as infected as you.

















All myths are uchronic myths. History cedes nothing. At best we can reinvent a reinvention. Merry England was always merry and never merry. The Dark Ages were darker than we imagine and full of light. The second something struggles to be, the second the moment is gone, the myth has already begun and it never resembles what you think it might.

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