Ring up the curtain for James Ferraro 

click to enlarge Distinct style James Ferraro enjoys writing music with substantial themes and concepts. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Distinct style James Ferraro enjoys writing music with substantial themes and concepts.

James Ferraro is an idea man.

The conceptual artist, musician and producer from Rochester, N.Y., refuses to be pinned down to one medium or genre. Ferraro has explored trash rock as an ode to American teens and computer music influenced by his daily surroundings.

Ferraro is co-headlining video dance party “120 Minutes” with Brooklyn pair White Ring on Friday at the Elbo Room in The City.

Ferraro’s latest album, “Far Side Virtual,” released on the Hippo in Tanks label in October 2011, is a trek into familiar territory: ring tones. He specifically wrote the tracks to be ring tones for smartphones.

“I wanted the record to have an impact that was outside of a regular album-style release,” Ferraro says, “and have it exist in a multimedia format.”

Ferraro’s 16-song release is a not-quite-ambient soundscape, synth-heavy and peppered with robotic voices. “Far Side Virtual” has a hopeful quality to it — less dystopian and more optimistic than a lot of experimental electronic music.

But Ferraro says he will not perform the album live.

“It’s impossible to duplicate live by myself,” he says, “and it defeats the purpose.”

“I kind of want ‘Far Side’ to be performed by an orchestra or just stay on cellphones,” he says.

Heading to San Francisco to tout Bodyguard, his most recent project, Ferraro will play his first live set under the new moniker. The endeavor finds him writing music with a band, a departure from previous solo efforts.

Bodyguard takes a different direction musically, according to Ferraro.

“I wanted to focus on song structures,” he says, “and simultaneously reference conceptual and social issues.”

But the songwriter doesn’t want concepts to overshadow the overall product.

“I want the music, production and the concept to all come together,” he says, “rather than the concept being the heaviest part — it’s an attempt to create something unifying.”

New York City-based White Ring, featuring producer Bryan Kurkimilis and singer Kendra Malia, also appears Friday at the Elbo Room.

White Ring’s electronic goth music is heavily influenced by rap. The two specialize in a hazy type of dark wave — many label it witch house — contrasting Malia’s soft, tormented vocals and Kurkimilis’ menacing hip-hop beats.

Talk about good ideas in motion.

juliachan@sfexaminer.com

James Ferraro + White Ring

Presented by 120 Minutes

Where: Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St., San Francisco
When: 9.m. Friday
Tickets: $10 to $15
Contact: www.facebook.com/120MINUTES
Note: 21-plus

 

Elbo Room

Where: 647 Valencia St., San Francisco
Info: Call (415) 552-7788 or visit www.elbo.com

Located in the historic and bustling Valencia Street corridor of the Mission district, the Elbo Room is an established place for entertainment in San Francisco. The main bar is on the ground floor; a second bar is next to an upstairs dance floor. The Elbo Room hosts what it calls “San Francisco’s longest happy hour” every day from 5 to 9 p.m., featuring $2 draft pints and drink specials.

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