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 — through samples, as well as contributions from dozens of far-flung rappers and vocalists — remained the least replicable weapon in his arsenal. Herren began his career working in commercial studios in Atlanta. Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives, his first album as Prefuse 73 — after lower-key releases as/with Delarosa, Delarosa & Asora, and Savath & Savalas — not only buried but cut up and spliced voices as well as allowing some more straightforward vocals from several MCs. The 2003 follow-up, One Word Extinguisher, carried on in a similar vein. That same year, Warp released Extinguished: Outtakes, a fascinating EP of beats and samples that ran through 23 tracks in about 35 minutes. Surrounded by Silence, the proper successor to One Word Extinguisher, was released in 2005, featuring collaborations with rappers Ghostface and Aesop Rock, plus Blonde Redhead and EL-P. Three months later, an EP of recordings made with the band the Books appeared, titled Reads the Books.
The next Prefuse record, 2006’s Security Screenings, was relatively light on collaborations; it featured only two guests, Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. Preparations, featuring Battles drummer John Stanier on one track, followed in 2007, and Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian appeared in 2009. Herren focused on collaborative projects in 2010, flexing his production muscles via dates, remixes, or cameos with everyone from Zach Hill (Diamond Watch Wrists) to Oneohtrix Point Never to TV on the Radio. His 2011 production The Only She Chapters continued the familial feeling, with a wealth of features for female vocalists. A few years later, newly inspired, Herren returned to the Prefuse 73 moniker with a flurry of releases on Temporary Residence Limited — an outlet endorsed by friends Nigel Godrich (Ultraísta) and Hebden — beginning with the 25th entry into the label’s Travels in Constants EP series. The album Rivington Não Rio, featuring guest appearances by Busdriver, Rob Crow, and Helado Negro, was flanked by the EPs Forsyth Gardens and Every Color of Darkness. All four works were issued in 2015, from March through July. ~ Geoff Orens & Andy Kellman
More about Prefuse 73
PITCHFORK Rivington Nao Rio review
FACT must-read interview