Prefuse 73 | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Prefuse 73 

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Scott Herren made Surrounded by Silence (Warp), his third full-length under the name Prefuse 73, as something of a showcase for his friends and acquaintances from the worlds of hip-hop, indie rock, electronica, and experimental music. His hyperactive, chopped-up, peripatetic sampladelia hasn't radically changed--beats still sputter and flow, tripping from jittery bursts to funky breaks, and blink-quick snatches of hijacked sound still tumble out in an overwhelming crush. But the motley cast of guests--including Aesop Rock, the Books, Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, Ghostface, and El-P--gives the disc a sprawling, if not disjointed, feel. And on the beatscapes Herren creates for rap duets featuring the likes of Masta Killa and GZA (whose cameo on "Just the Thought" sounds entirely phoned in), he tightens up his freewheeling tendencies to the detriment of his production. The problem is that such songs don't sound genuinely collaborative, and Herren's tracks work better when the vocal cameos are more tightly integrated into the mix: the bland singing of Claudia Deheza (of On!Air!Library!) and her twin sister Alejandra on "Pastel Assassins" would probably sound like cut-rate Stereolab if Herren hadn't mutilated it with his digital slice-and-dicer. Though he doesn't fuck with Camu Tao's voice on "Now You're Leaving," the singer and MC doesn't treat Herren's music as a mere backdrop; Tao's vocals fit into the jagged nooks and crannies of the track like a missing puzzle piece. Herren's touring with a band that includes Chicagoan Josh Abrams on bass, two DJs, and a drummer. Tyondai Braxton of Battles and Beans also guest on the album, and since Battles and Beans open this show, it seems likely that some additional collaborations will play out. The same lineup also performs at the Empty Bottle on Friday, May 13. For more see Music in Section 1. Thu 5/12, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

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