Guillermo Scott Herren (Prefuse 73) Releases

By: Ron Hart

The best thing about Guillermo Scott Herren and his own unique brand of glitched-out breakbeat science is the consistency with which he executes each album he delivers under the guise of one of his many monikers.

His projects are treated almost like beat tapes constructed for friends and potential collaborators, only released on a grander scale, which is why he has built himself up such a strong fanbase who tend to work at a desk, like editors, writers and graphic designers who utilize his music as a bed for their own creative impulses. And when he does try to switch things up, like he did in 2005 when he collaborated with a posse of A-list rappers for the otherwise C-grade Prefuse 73 album Surrounded By Silence, or the pushing of his downright pedestrian forays into female-crooned Catalan folk as he's done on his latest releases under his Savath Y Savalas handle, his fans generally pine for the Herren of such classic titles as Savath's 2000 debut masterpiece, Songs for Trains, Trees and Honey, and Prefuse's 2003 masterpiece, One Word Extinguisher.

Well, after spending the last few years meandering through awkward collaborations and questionable sonic terrain it's a great joy to pronounce that 2009 is gearing up to be Herren's most creatively robust year in the decade he has been cutting and pasting up grooves. First, he kicked things off in April with the release of his seventh proper Prefuse 73 full-length, Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian , 29 songs in a hair under 50 minutes, filled with the kind of skittering swagger that will remind longtime listeners of his auspicious debut, Uprock Studies + Vocal Narratives more so than any other Prefuse album to date. In essence, Ampexian is classic Prefuse, and it should also be noted that the whole album was recorded on analog tape (just in case you were wondering what Ampexian meant as in Ampex recording equipment).

Meanwhile, the jams don't stop there. Also released this spring is the fourth Savath Y Savalas full-length, La Llama (released May 19), which has been released on the only abstract urbania label that truly matters on the West Coast, Stones Throw Records. Given Stones Throw's unfettered love for all things psychedelic, Brazilian and funky, the release of the new Savath album through the careful hands of Peanut Butter Wolf and co. is indeed a match made in crate digger heaven. Welcoming ex-girlfriend and S&S vocalist Eva Puyuelo Muns back into the fold and adding a third member in electronic producer Roberto Carlos Mange, who co-wrote most the material on La Llama alongside Herren, helping him craft Savath's most satisfying set since the Rolls and Waves EP and a perfect balance between the DJ's original and current vision of his longest-running project.

Finally, there's Diamond Watch Wrists, Herren's long anticipated, much rumored collaboration with Hella dummer Zach Hill. Their debut on Warp, Ice Capped At Both Ends (released April 28), might not exactly be the kind of collaboration you expected from one of the most psychotic drummers pounding the Remos today and the Czar of glitch-hop. In fact, compared to predictions about this album's sound on the blogosphere, the final product actually the pairing comes off like two entirely different beasts. No, this isn't Prefuse flipping, chopping and rubbing down Hill's spaz-core breaks to a granulated alien groove. In fact, as a drummer Hill has never sounded tamer than he does on Ice Capped At Both Ends, extending upon his more muted efforts on his 2008 solo debut, Astrological Straits (Ipecac), than his more kinetic work in Hella. While it is not exactly as interesting as Ampexian or La Llama, Ice Capped does manage to fill in the niche left by such recently shelved Herren-related projects as Delarosa and Asora and Piano Overlord, while offering a glimmer of what's ahead as Herren prepares to unleash his new collaborative project, a guitar-based thing called Risil said to feature members of Sunn 0))), Hella (presumably Hill), School of Seven Bells and Pivot, among others.

In the end, all of these new Herren albums aren't drastically different than anything Scott has done in the past, as they are all strung together by the similar thread of his uncanny penchant for mashing the digital with the analog, drawing in the warmth of jazz, samba, soul and folk into the icy complexities of IDM and improvisational electronica. And so long as he continues to do it as well as he has been over these last ten years his fans will certainly anticipate anything and everything he throws their way.

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[Published on: 6/13/09]

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