Alt rap producer Scott Herren has created synth-splitting music under many different monikers, but none more popular than Prefuse 73, the name behind 2003’s fantastic One Word Extinguisher and 2007’s Preparations. It isn’t his most adventurous side project, but it’s his most interesting, fiddling with cracked drums and electronic sounds in an approach best summed up by OWE highlight “The Color of Tempo”. It’s been four years since the last Prefuse 73 album, The Only She Chapters, though Herron has kept busy in that time releasing an album as Piano Overlord, an EP as Sons of the Morning, and a slew of scattered remixes. But Prefuse is his bread and butter, and on the project’s eighth studio album, Rivington Não Rio, he dabbles in an even more kinetic and unpredictable type of rhythmic mania.
At its most frenzied — the skittering “Jacinto Lyric Range” or the rapidly staggering “Applauded Assumptions” — Rivington Não Rio amps up like a system overload on a dial-up connection. At its most subdued, like on the Sam Dew-featuring “Infrared”, it’s still electrified, condensing and warping animated sounds into something less frenetic but equally mobile. The most pleasing moments arrive between the hectic and the static, when Herren finds breath in the nooks and crannies. There is a sense of constant motion throughout the album, and it feels best when he pauses momentarily so the listener can get their bearings. On “140 Jabs Interlude”, Hellfyre Club reps Milo and Busdriver provide the pace, but Herren distorts the backdrop just enough to frame each puncturing syllable.
The rhythms and melodies on RNR move urgently, as if they have somewhere to be. Yet despite the beats shifting with real purpose, there never seems to be any destination in mind. This allows a listener to pay particularly close attention to the increasingly erratic journey. “Open Nerve Farewells” starts off like a skipping disc before morphing into a sea of throbs and whines, and it closes the album, echoing off into a vacuum as though it’ll never end. Rivington Não Rio is Prefuse 73 at his most hyperactive, and it sounds like he isn’t stopping for anyone.
Essential Tracks: “140 Jabs Interlude”, “Jacinto Lyric Range”, and “Open Nerve Farewells”