7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Listen up Pharrell,
This review is from: Surrounded By Silence (Audio CD)
After an initial lot of hot bother over his One Word Extinguisher LP, it was starting to seem that Scott Herren's (aka Prefuse 73) distinctly jarring style of spasmodic hip hop had nowhere left to go. His last set of releases and remixes indicated that his music was running out of things to say except show off that impressive programming technique. One reviewer was wondering if it was now just a pre-set on his computer. In short, he was becoming a victim of his own innovation.
Or at least he would have been, had he not moved to Barcelona, met the singer Eva Pueylo and made some sweet, sad Catalan songs under the alias of Savath and Savalas. The albums he made under this guise (Aprop'at and Manana) had no bearing on his Prefuse methods. This seems to have totally reinvigorated his Prefuse work, and given him a chance to see it from an outside perspective, perhaps to get less overwhelmed by those juttering beats and to let the melodies shine through more, to think more about song writing in an old fashioned sense.
I say all this because this is exactly what Surrounded by Silence sounds like. It is an excellent record. Even better than One Word Extinguisher, which in comparison seems limited in scope. Prefuse has got the big guns out for this LP, and must be determined that his sound be heard by a wider audience. Just look at the collaborations: Ghostface, Masta Killah, GZA, TY. Big hip hop names who clearly have an appreciation for Prefuse's methods (not so surprising, a glance at One Word's sleevenotes show that Destiny's Child are fans of Herren's music).
But this is not just a celebrity guest record. Herren has clearly put a lot of hard work and emotion into this record. Its filled with great songwriting which uses his bleeps and crunches at the service of the music and not the other way round. A 60's and 70's approach to soul and pop comes through in the horns, folk samples and psychedelic backing vocals. At the same time, the record sounds more like old Detroit Techno. It builds it electronic loops and synth beats up rather than throw them around in the blender as soon as you've heard them.
Alright, put it more simply: The styles on this record range from hip hop to latin to folk and electronica. Yet it all sounds like only one man could have made it. It all works brilliantly, and is so accessible while keeping its identity that you wonder if Herren might just succeed in getting a bigger audience for his work. It probably won't do to the extent that you'd hope, but he may just join his friend RJD2 in attaining a DJ Shadow like level of popularity. Lets just hope Pharrell Williams hears this record: a fan of Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, this would be right up his alley. Then people may start to listen.