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splendid > reviews > 10/6/2003
Prefuse 73
Prefuse 73
One Word Extinguisher
Warp


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "One Word Extinguisher"

Buy me now
This guy fucking rocks. Prefuse 73 (actually Scott Herren) makes hip-hop dark, dirty and fun again. Scrambling genres and blending samples into a purée, Herren takes what amounts to a series of completely artificial electronic noises and whips them into one of the most soulful, funky, relentlessly compelling albums since the Neptunes' last outing.

Twenty-one tracks, some passing in the blink of an eye and others building up steam before exploding in a bath of breakbeats and bass, form the basis of One Word Extinguisher. Prefuse 73 likes the morality tale ("Huevos with Jeff and Rani"). He likes women ("Female Demands"). Mostly, I think, he likes to vent through his music, which can be an articulate soundscape or a furious "fuck you" to the world. On "The End of Biters - International", Herren remixes the diatribes of an MC without a care as to whether or not the meaning of the message is lost. His attitude? You'll speak when I let you speak, and you'll say what I want you to say. It's DJ-as-God. Herren divorces us from the real world even as he uses its symbols and sounds to draft his own.

The album is fiercely postmodern. "Dave's Bonus Beats" starts off with an answering machine message regarding said beats ("I'm gonna send them FedEx in probably about half an hour...") followed by the finished product, which utilizes gospel vocals, soul stylings and a Casio keyboard gone to church. The title track is a densely layered epic of "keeping it real" proportions. "90% of My Mind Is with You" is a wet dream waiting to happen, not because it's sexy but because it's raw. "Detchibe" hits like the bomb, turning scratchy, overmodulated drum machine tracks into something mysteriously human in a Zapp and Roger kind of way. Herren exhibits more finesse and flair on the impressively complex "Storm Returns" and "Styles That Fade Away with a Collonade Reprise", both of which still rock me out of my seat every time.

Never let it be said that Herren doesn't love music, or respect fully where his samples and influences are coming from. "Perverted Undertone" may be hitting the nail on the head of most smooth jazz bedroom anthems, but Herren crafts it with an attention to detail and a respect for his subject that would be lost on anyone trying to purposely skew the song for the benefit of his own punchline. Herren not only respects his music, he respects his audience. "Why I Love You" deconstructs the R&B ballad even while paying homage to it, leaving us to marvel at how the song's root can survive Herren's intentional meddling. Perhaps that's his point -- he strips it away on occasion and allows the song to speak for itself before warping it once again, never allowing us to become complacent accomplices. In moments like this, when Herren forces us to actually think and form opinions rather than letting us off as mere listeners, he justifies his mad scientist experimentation and makes me wish every album I heard was this vital.



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