Prefuse 73 – The Only She Chapters album review

The new album from glitch-hop pioneer Prefuse 73 (aka Guillermo Scott Herren) The Only She Chapters is a collection that makes distinctive use of off-kilter beats and aural atmospherics. All of the track titles begin with “The Only”, and all the vocal parts come courtesy of a cast of female guests (“The Only Trial of 9000 Sons” features the recently departed singer of Broadcast, Trish Keenan and Zola Jesus on “The Only Direction in Concrete”) suggesting a loose but consistent theme. Scott Herren wrote last July on his Myspace that the exclusivity of female vocals was fully intended and the album was born of a desire to use purely female vocal parts and contact microphones. Prefuse 73 has been signed to Warp Records for a decade, so it is interesting that songs like “The Only Contact She’s Willing To Give” feature instrumental exoticism and white noise – both characteristics key to the musical styles of contemporary beat artists like Mount Kimbie and Flying Lotus.

The Only She Chapters is a clever juxtaposition of vocals, synths, samples, and beats with a thread drawn through them all and pulled taught by Scott Herren, who has designed an uninterrupted collection of music reliant on so much texture that it feels near tangible. Often sounds will get lost within others, but the production style is a meticulous enough patchwork that this “sound crowding” takes off in a heavier dynamic sense than it’s separate parts could achieve alone.

The album’s highlights are the Portishead-like “The Only Hand To Hold” featuring Shara Wordern of My Brightest Diamond and “The Only Repeat”, a seven-minute epic that serves as the album’s climax. The density present all throughout The Only She Chapters might make it a difficult listen for some, as there is not a particular point where the music feels simple. It will be interesting if Scott Herren’s neo-wall of sound approach carries through to any subsequent releases or if the long form/mix-like approach of The Only She Chapters will be regarded as a necessary phase in his artistic evolution.

As Scott Herren’s sound progresses so does his reputation – a recent mixtape with Zola Jesus, upcoming work with the Flaming Lips and recent remixes for the Bug and King Midas Sound are proof enough.

Prefuse 73’s The Only She Chapters is available now from Warp Records.

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