One of many monikers used by severely prolific experimental producer Scott Herren, Prefuse 73 has been releasing records of thoroughly unique, disjointed hiphop and blurry-edged electronic music since 2001. The first two Prefuse albums were bursting with future shapes and new ideas--melding the darker end of '90s-infuenced rap production to the glitch-hearty, sterile sonics of labels like Ghostly International and Warp (the latter of which Herren calls home). Prefuse's music stretched and sectioned the voices and flows of their MCs into simply another layer of gravel on the road, with Herren's beats pushing into new spaces at every opportunity, continuously defying calcification.
The recently released Surrounded by Silence refines the Prefuse format a bit, not so much by simplifying the music as magnifying its most thrilling aspects. Although there's still a microscopic mischief in the sonic details and a copious amount of cutting-up (particularly on the tracks featuring Battles' Tyondai Braxton), many of the songs adopt a relatively straightforward approach, serving largely as set pieces for Herren's many illustrious collaborators. Indie rap heavyweights El-P & Aesop Rock, Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino, GZA and Killahs Ghostface and Masta of the Wu-Tang, and a splatter of other folks aid and abet Prefuse's genre-blind vision quest. Like Herren's most frequent other project, Savath & Savalas, the record is infused with strains of Spanish folk music and bossanova--drawing a bloody line from the drama and romanticism of Brazilian and other folk musics to the gothic hyper-drama of hiphop producers like RZA and El-P. Surrounded by Silence is a rare achievement--a completely emotional, completely experimental, and completely unclassifiable record.