Ever since his first album "Vocal Studies & Uprock Narratives", Scott Herren, the man behind Prefuse 73, really sounded like the man that would change the way hip-hop music is perceived, mostly focusing on the musical aspects of it and merely using the MCs as a chopped and diced musical instrument part of his monster-like musical creations. When I heard One Word Extinguisher, I was blown away. Even though it was less complex than its precessor, it contained enough digital trickery and emotion to satisfy a programming nerd or just a well-minded music fan. It was definitely one of the top albums of 2003.
On this latest album, Prefuse 73 takes quite a different approach. Even though the track listing still bears the Prefuse 73 signature with that there are 21 tracks (with some of them being shorter interludes), where things mostly change is with the collaborative aspect of this album. While the previous albums had guest appearances (such as MF Doom, Sam Prekop, Diverse, Mr.Lif and others), there are guest appearances everywhere on this album, the most notable being Ghostface, El-P, Tyondai Brazton, Claudia Deheza, The Books, Aesop Rock, Masta Killa, GZA, DJ Nobody, Beans, Broadcast and... well, you get the picture. This makes for an eclectic, yet hard to stomach album. Mostly because there's so much music in there that it becomes dizzying. It really is impossible to get a proper opinion of that album on only one listen.
The cooperative aspect of the album, as said earlier, gives mixed results, but the collaborations that success here really do propel the album high upwards. "Pastel Assassins" is a wicked tune, featuring trailing loud snare accents all over the place enhanced by the vocals of the guest vocalists. "Pagina Dose", featuring the Books, is a quite entrancing little number, featuring exotic sounding guitars and some chopped vocals over Prefuse 73's signature drum beats. "Gratis" would be most likely Prefuse 73 at his best, mixing his trademark glitchy beats with nice melodies as well as some unexpected turns through its running time, such as the massive jazz workout happening near the middle of the piece whereas the closer song "And I'm Gone", which somehow managed to feature 3 guest appearances at the same time, is a terrific showcase of psychedelia mixed over some nifty jazz drumming.
However, the collaborative aspect do show it's failures mostly in the rap songs' department. Whereas Prefuse 73 did manage to make and produce some good straight-forward rap songs on his previous albums (Black List and Plastic being the most noteworthy picks), most of the songs here fall flat due to Herren trying to satisfy his guest vocalists rather than to satisfy himself. Hide Ya Face, for instance, is a rather annoying song in which neither Ghostface or El-P manage to stand out in a good way, delivering completely off-beat, insipid rhymes complemented by El-P shouting "Hi-hi-hide-hide ya face!" once in a while. Luckly, the instrumental remix that comes after sheds some better light on the rather ill single song. The other biggest offender would be "Just The Thought", which mostly suffer from a similar fate, having it's MCs spilling some really sloppy dialogue over the somewhat intriguing production.
"Now You're Leaving", featuring MC Camu on the vocals, almost sounds like a straight R&B tune that almost eschews Prefuse 73's glitchy approach altogether, but at least the vocals do add up to the song and this fellow has a quite pleasant voice, as well. Aesop Rock, who already appeared on Prefuse's first album, is back on "Sabbatical With Options", a quirky, yet fun tune that do feature some humor. "Moral Crusher" with Beans would have to be the better rap collaboration on the disc, with him delivering interesting rhymes and a rather charismatic voice. It's a shame that this song just acts like an interlude as it's just 1 minute long.
While Prefuse 73 might have been a bit over-ambitious with this album and certainly could have got removed some fat off his album to make it more packed and organised, removing some of the embarrasing moments and some of the songs where Prefuse 73 just recycles previous ideas of his former albums and do little else (such as Silence Interlude's use of One Word Extuinguisher's opening fanfare and his rewrite of his song "Detchibe" that results in the track "Ty Versus Detchibe" featuring Tyondai Braxton) would result in a great album. As it stands out now, it's a bit uneven, but there are enough great moments through this CD to keep you listening all the way through. If you're a Prefuse 73 fan, this album will sit nicely on your CD collection alongside your other CDs and newcomers might enjoy that album, as well.