Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Only She Chapters - Prefuse 73 (CMG Review)

The Only She Chapters

Prefuse 73
Warp Records.

CMG Rating: 59%

Was it presumptuous of me to assume that the helmet-wearing voyager on the cover of Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian (2009) was no taller than an inch in stature? I’d never considered otherwise, given how that record’s epic journey was spliced together from miniscule movements, many of them less than a minute in length. Fans called it prog-ish but in reality Prefuse 73, aka Guillermo Scott Herren, had accomplished far more than mere genre-mashing; he’d manipulated notions of brevity and excess in a way that allowed his jam to continuously shape-shift and build steam. Above all that, Herren’s self-imposed restraints forced listeners to hear his full-length as a whole and engage themselves with each second for fear of otherwise feeling ripped off. “I’m always going to run into the opinion of, ‘I wish this would turn into a song and go somewhere,’” Herren told The AV Club in June 2009. “If I wanted the song to run longer than 30 seconds…the album would be crushed. It would be overkill.”

Herren’s words, although intended for his previous song-cycle, lean prophetically upon The Only She Chapters. Because in case the kaleidoscopic cover art and all-too-similar song titles didn’t suggest an introspective, labyrinthine mind-fuck, Herren’s beat-making carries an overwrought capacity for thousands of sonic trinkets, swelling and chafing one another. To my surprise, the fact that these stacked and congealing layers all but obliterate Prefuse 73’s flair for progressive hip-hop is almost easy to make peace with, in part because we’re left with so few familiar scraps to champion. In the absence of those trademarks The Only She Chapters feels desolate, but remember: the avid collaborator behind such acts as Savath y Savalas, Piano Overlord, and Diamond Watch Wrists has gone gloriously off-map before. A willingness to blindly trust Prefuse 73’s instincts has proven a passport to imaginative aural playgrounds in the past, but here it’s hard to deny the dreaded suspicion that Herren might abandon us in the hollow of these overcooked productions.

Read the rest of the CMG review here.

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