Live in Portland September 22, 2018 | Jack London
To say that Anthony Ferraro’s style is retro would be somewhat of a fallacy. Ferraro, who records music under the name, Astronauts, etc., is more like someone who was put in a time capsule that was reopened in the 21st century. No, Ferraro’s style isn’t retro, it’s just from another time, as is Ferraro.
Perhaps his anachronistic aesthetic comes from his classical piano background. Now, Ferraro is a pop arranger based in Oakland. In addition to his solo career, he is a keyboardist for Toro y Moi. So it is no surprise that Chaz Bundick, of Toro y Moi, produced the latest Astronaut, etc. album, Living In Symbol, and released via Bundick’s own label, Company Records, in July. Living In Symbol is a smooth, funky and ornate work. It makes sense considering who the producer is. However, even more so because Ferraro drew inspiration from Latin psychedelia and orchestral arrangements from David Axelrod.
“Kelly on the Moon” could blend in perfectly on Axelrod’s 1968 album, Song of Innocence. Yes, you are going to feel like you are listening underwater by the end of the track. “Stray Observations” has the most psychedelic flare and is the most Toro y Moi-esque, which is a very important distinction to be made, because while Bundick elevated (or more like, levitated) the album’s sound, Living In Symbol is Ferraro’s very own masterpiece.
There is something so elegant yet simplistic about the strings instrumental on “The Border.” Together with the funky guitar hook, a glitzy combination is created. Moreover, watch the video for “The Border,” and try arguing that Ferraro isn’t from another time. Really, it’s impossible. The video, which Ferraro directed himself, features himself playing multiple instruments in a house that time has forgotten, and all through a lens of blue and red fuzziness.
If someone handed me a vinyl copy of Living In Symbol and told me they found it in their grandpa’s attic, I’d believe them.