Warp/Inertia, 2009

Since bursting onto the London scene, via Barcelona and Atlanta, in 2001 Guillermo Scott Herren has been working non stop. He’s released records under a mind boggling array of guises; Savath and Savalias, Delarosa & Asora, Piano Overlord, but it’s while wearing his most well known hat that he’s had most success. With the first Prefuse 73 record Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives the bar was set high. Mixing skewed hip hop beats and chopped up vocal samples with sketched out electronica, relaying so quickly in and back out again that left you wondering what the fuck was going on. It was a kick up the ass that underground producers needed and pushed the door open for a number of artists.

Once laying down the formula this was tweaked to perfection on the incredible 2003’s One Word Extinguisher and 2005’s guest vocal heavy Surrounded by Silence. Like his fellow artists Aesop Rock and EL-P, Herren’s problem though seems to have been how to reconcile what first seemed so fresh and vibrant with updating his own sound to stay ahead of the game. Through Extinguisher was a high point in underground producing it was a difficult act to follow. Looking back this may have been the reason for the vast array of vocals on …Silence but this still felt like a vital record. It was the point where Herren took the beats that he had been cultivating mostly in isolation and added the human touch to. It was a risk but it paid off.

With 2007’s Preparations though it seemed that he had gone cold, bored with the Prefuse moniker, and had given up trying to push boundaries. While trying to stay ahead he ended up making a by the numbers record that sounded anything but fresh. It was tired and you thought that maybe this was the point where the numerous other incarnations of Herren would come to the fore.

That’s where Everything… comes in. This sounds like a Prefuse record. It’s warm, it’s glitchy, it’s exactly what you want. Playing what turned both him and us on in the first place, it’s the sound of an artist comfortable in his own skin. It maybe less in your face than earlier releases but no less immediate for it. More in common with Squarepusher than what are seen as his contemporaries, Herron has dropped both the volume and the majority of the vocals. The jazzy bass lines have always been there but they seem ever more apparent this time, and intertwined with psychedelic breaks it’s a definite departure from the hip hop scene. He’s created a soundscape that is both introspective and contemplative.

Some records are immediate on first listen but Everything… is anything but, and this is half the appeal. There’s so much going on it would be hard not to miss a beat or five but repeated listening reveals further layers that may’ve been missed the first time. While initially overwhelming if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded.