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Surrounded By Silence

Prefuse 73

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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 alias of Scott Herren, an experimental hip-hop producer whose material often features MCs buried in the mix to become more a part of the sonic texture than a focal point. Herren began his career working in commercial studios in Atlanta, but later went on to more experimental work. His first record under the Prefuse name, Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives, not only buried but cut up and spliced raps as well as allowing some more straightforward vocals from several MCs. The 2003 follow-up,...
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