Prefuse 73

When Prefuse 73 released his full-length debut Vocal Studies and Uprock Narratives two years ago, there was initially little hype or buzz surrounding the album. But within months Vocal Studies was hailed by many as a groundbreaking album that effectively blurred the line between hip-hop and experimental electronic music through a dizzying production approach. Slivers of beats and percussion patterns were realigned, bass lines were subverted and diverted, keyboards were cut up and shuffled, and vocal contributions by respected underground hip-hop MCs such as Mikah 9, Aesop Rock, and MF Doom were whittled down to slices of syllables. It was as if Scott Herren (the man behind Prefuse 73), who originally built upon his mystique by cranking out music through other recording projects such as Savath & Savalas (mellow organic post-rock) and Delarosa & Asora (tweaked abstract jazz), was the missing link between Autechre and DJ Shadow.

While Vocal Studies veered closer to Shadow's atmospheric hip-hop, One Word Extinguisher leans toward Autechre -- that is, if Autechre uncorked the sticks out of their uptight arses. Herren's production work on One Word is as jaw-dropping as ever, as he threads tiny beat fragments together with jazz bass lines, strings, vocals, and a slew of various scratchy blips, bleeps, clips, and clops. It's clear Herren doesn't want to wait for you to get adjusted to his confounding audio alchemy; he jumps headfirst into the maelstrom with the gutsy stutter-step vibe of "The End of Biters" before immediately following with the equally powerful "Plastic," a tough blend of hip-hop and glitch accented by the fervent rhymes of Chicago underground MC Diverse.

A quick perusal of the guest collaborators on One Word -- Detroit's hip-hop experimentalist Dabrye on two tracks, Southern California collagist Daedelus, skateboarder-turned-producer Tommy Guerrero, and Boston MC Mr. Lif -- shows that Herren is in full exploratory mode. However, he never loses sight of key elements such as groove, atmosphere, melody, and humor, the latter quality evidenced by his hilarious use of vocal samples on "Altoid Addiction" and "Southerners" as well as the self-explanatory song titles "90% Of My Mind Is With You" and "Perverted Undertone." For once, do believe the hype. Prefuse 73 is the real shit. -- Tim Pratt

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Tim Pratt