Something Missing This Way Comes
Despite his Atlanta home base, Scott Herren’s Prefuse 73 has eschewed Dirty South hip-hop in favor of hip-hop that’s cluttered — genius electronics piled on top of beats and guest musicians. Indeed, the biggest feature of P73 recordings prior to the new Security Screenings was their precarious position just a few twiddled knobs away from the Boom Bip/Caribou school of bedroom techno.Security Screenings is the first with both feet in that camp, and it doesn’t sound like Herren’s best career move. There are still some forceful grooves, most notably in the piecemeal piano and choruses of “No Origin,” but it’s as if only someone like Saul Williams could rhyme over something this complex.
Alas, we’ll never know what that sounds like, for unlike last time there are no guest appearances by hip-hop intelligentsia like Beans and Ghostface. In their place? Just two barely electro contributors, Four Tet on “Creating Cyclical Headaches” and TV on the Radio during “We Leave You in a Cloud of Thick Smoke and Sleep Outro.” While tracks like these are certainly intriguing, Herren here doesn’t fake the funk because sometimes the funk is replaced by (among other things) female R&B vocals stitched together from CD sample fragments, as on “Always It’s Gonna Be Like That.”
At 41 minutes this is also the shortest Prefuse 73 LP to date, and while you’re never quite sure if the sounds represent flirtatious deviations from the norm or actual attempts at artistic development, Security Screenings is more style and far less substance. Maybe Herren was determined not to have another cavalcade of stars like last year’s Surrounded by Silence, but for the most part here the one and the two have been abandoned in favor of zeroes and ones.