Bleep-funk and busted breaks, hip-hop style
No, there’s nothing wrong with your ears. This album really [I]does[/I] sound trapped on the radio dial between three brilliant stations at once. It’s one man’s fault.
Scott Herren lives in Atlanta, Georgia and has been doing his best to redefine the boundaries of hip-hop out there. Using old records, keyboards and a mixing desk he sews together beats, disconnected rap babble, swathes of ambience, electronic pops, organ chops and snatched vocal harmonies to make a sound so unusual that only those endowed with canine hearing can be familiar with it.
It is teeth-clattering but exhilarating. A good example of the Prefuse magic is ‘Point To B’ which meshes together a rap with all the important words missing and a jumpy breakbeat to jarring effect until a beautiful ray of techno melody emerges and bathes the whole track in light. Behind every wall of hip-hop noise on ‘Vocal Studies…’ there lurks a heart-bursting tune and that’s what makes it alluring.
It’s the William Burroughs cut-up technique applied to hip-hop – chopping good ideas up and throwing them down seemingly at random. At first, it intimidates and confuses, but it ripens with use into something nourishing. Somewhere DJ Shadow is listening and wondering what on earth he can do next.