After proggy detours and veering off into other musical identities, Guillermo Scott Herren returns with Rivington Não Rio under the guise of Prefuse 73. It’s an update to the sampled and synthetic sounds that made him something of a hip-hop and electronica phenomenon about 15 years back, not a rousing reimagination of his approach to music. Herren’s catalog of work has clearly begotten folks like Helado Negro—who makes an appearance here—as well as an envoy of glitchy, hip hop-centric producers.
The third of four like-packaged Prefuse 73 releases issued within a five-month span in 2015, Rivington Não Rio -- flanked by the shorter Forsyth Gardens and Every Color of Darkness -- is the only one considered an album. Though the four releases range only from eight to 11 tracks, this surely is the most substantial one of the crop, both in terms of length and quantity of fully developed songs with vocalists. The only feature across the other three releases is Sam Dew on "Infrared," and it's repeated here as a central track, a glinting shuffle that, like most of the other cuts, has a warm glow and a flickering, slightly psychedelic effect.
It's been four years since the last Prefuse 73 album, which may be a standard time for some, but for an artist as prolific as Guillermo Scott Herren, it's a veritable eternity. While there have been other Herren releases in that time period — an album under his Piano Overlord moniker and his collaborative Sons of the Morning project with Teebs — until now, nothing's emerged from his most well-known, and arguably his best alias. Rivington Não Rio not only marks a return to the spotlight for Prefuse 73, but also a return to the ultra-layered, glitch beats of his formative years.
The beats Guillermo Scott Herren has been constructing as Prefuse 73 for 15 years resemble the work of a master graphic designer. The way a skilled Adobe Creative Suite architect takes old, obscure fonts and images and re-appropriates them against a backdrop of razor-sharp typesetting and wide-open white space is retro-futurist art of the highest order, and it is similar to the way the Miami-born, Atlanta-bred producer builds his beats from fragments of voices, instruments and found sounds reprocessed through his MPC. And while he got his start in the experimental/post-rock realm under his Delarosa and Asora and Savath y Savalas monikers, it was Prefuse 73 that exhibited Herren's true skill set as a producer and composer.
Alt rap producer Scott Herren has created synth-splitting music under many different monikers, but none more popular than Prefuse 73, the name behind 2003’s fantastic One Word Extinguisher and 2007’s Preparations. It isn’t his most adventurous side project, but it’s his most interesting, fiddling with cracked drums and electronic sounds in an approach best summed up by OWE highlight “The Color of Tempo”. It’s been four years since the last Prefuse 73 album, The Only She Chapters, though Herron has kept busy in that time releasing an album as Piano Overlord, an EP as Sons of the Morning, and a slew of scattered remixes.
Guillermo S. Herren, aka Prefuse 73, returns this month with his first full length album in four years, bringing back his elusive brand of electronic mostly unchanged from the sound of his 2011 release The Only She Chapters. That’s not to say that Herren hasn’t evolved throughout his career, as his sound has become increasingly removed from the fragmented hip-hop drone of his One Word Extinguisher days, moving instead towards more acoustic territory while still making use of his signature fractured beats and dissonant soundscapes.