This Astronauts, etc. article was written by Alexander Smail, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson
Borne out of therapeutic release, recording music under the alias Astronauts, ect. became a coping mechanism for Anthony Ferraro after being forced to drop out of college on account of his arthritis. Originally training to be a classical pianist, Ferraro’s bedroom project garnered significant attention – and led to an unlikely friendship with Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi. Mind Out Wandering is predictably personal, finding the California-based songwriter recounting a year’s journey of falling in love, resulting in a bracingly cathartic album.
Ferraro’s classical roots can be felt all over the record – if not in the tone, then in sheer ability. Given his history, it’s unsurprising that from the very first note of the opening track, the piano is dominant; over the course of the album’s brisk thirty-six minutes, it leaves as much of an impression as his sultry falsetto, if not more. The gentle electric piano contrasts well with the harsher acoustic, and even when Ferraro is at his most downtrodden, like on nostalgic ‘See You’, it eases the mood and creates a sense of serenity. Likewise, his vulnerability is nicely echoed in delicate vocals that feel as if they could be shattered by a feather.
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Currently moonlighting as his keyboardist, the influence of Ferraro’s time spent with Chaz Bundick on Mind Out Wandering is subtle, but evident. The funk-laced double-punch of ‘Eye to Eye’ and ‘Shake It Loose’ at the midpoint marks a refreshing change of pace on an otherwise subdued album, sharing obvious blood with the chillwave icon. Where he differs from Bundick is his candid approach. This record nakedly lays out its emotions alongside simple live instrumentals and, recorded directly to tape with a live band, there is an authenticity here that is refreshing. Whether he’s agonising about being alone, or howling that “there’s no justice for the ones who are in love” on the solemn ‘Justice’, Ferraro has no qualms about laying his soul bare and turns what could have been middle-of-the-road into a poignant account of falling in love.
Plodding by nature, Mind Out Wandering can have trouble sustaining attention, particularly in the opening half. These tracks find Ferraro at his most melancholic, and the despondent lyrics and sometimes-whiny vocals can be grating. Additionally, on the earlier tracks in particular, there is a palpable lack of variety. He loosens up as the album progresses, but the homogeneity lingers. Ferraro taps into a sound that works, and seldom deviates, doubling down on the 70s soul and soft rock. If you’re not charmed by the first track or two, you‘re going to have trouble sticking with this album, even over its brief thirty-six minutes.
Deceptively downbeat, Mind Out Wandering is ultimately an exercise in catharsis and, despite the scattered inspiration, a cohesiveness flows through. Drifting through Ferraro’s desires and meditations, the album plays like a love letter, expressing both heartache and passion effectually over its concise runtime. He isn’t any closer to figuring things out by the end, but seems satisfied enough just getting everything off his chest.
Mind Out Wandering is out now via Hit City Records