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Surrounded By Silence

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Album Review

Scott Herren's first two full-lengths as Prefuse 73 were masterly collisions of wave-your-hand party breaks and stop-time glitch techno. Everything held sacred in the hip-hop playbook — including the rapper — was merely fodder for Herren's processor, and given enough time, he could rearrange an earthy old-school track into a computer-bred monster that would make a master of the jutting sample like Marley Marl sound close to a syrupy G-funk producer in comparison. While Herren's third album down the line could never be the same revolution in sound as his first two, it's a surprise nevertheless to find it downright desultory. With a series of all-star rap features — including three underperforming members from Wu-Tang Clan and three OK contractors from Definitive Jux — Herren's productions serve his guests instead of his own tracks, and the result is very close to just another underground rap record, with the usual collection of untraceable sound detritus to anchor its productions. Several of the instrumentals recapture something of the Prefuse 73 magic, but Herren isn't entirely successful even when in cut-and-splice mode — one track finds him sampling and repeating a series of downright annoying nasalisms from Tyondai Braxton (although the title, "Mantra," furnishes a partial explanation).


Born: Miami, FL

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Prefuse 73 is the foremost alias of Scott Herren, a producer and musician whose experimental and novel approach to hip-hop production, along with that of Tadd Mullinix (aka Dabrye), formed something of a bridge between the '90s output of the Mo' Wax label (exemplified by DJ Shadow) and the later Los Angeles beat scene (led by Flying Lotus). Although Herren occasionally drifted away from hip-hop with positive results, his elegantly layered and psychedelic way with beats and heavily treated voices...
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