Prefuse 73: Rivington Não Rio

The beloved experimental beats man returns, but has he remembered to bring any of the things we like?

- Prefuse 73, (aka Guillermo Scott Herren) has previously been appraised by critics as an innovator who lifted hiphop above the borders that defined the genre throughout the US. Fans are celebrating Rivington Não Rio as being apart of a triptych release, with Herren breaking his silence after four years. The two other releases also coming out this year are Forsyth Gardens (in April) and Every Color of Darkness (in July).

Rivington Não Rio has Herren’s distinct flavor that Prefuse 73 audiences will recognize immediately. Disappointingly however, the album is lukewarm, with Herren seeming focused on its accessibility to the general populace. Anyone of a musical bias will struggle to embrace the record, as most of the tracks on Rivington Não Rio would be more suited for elevator music for melancholic teenagers. The album is too textural for R&B or pop, not glitchy enough for post-techno/glitch hop, and far too cliché to for new-music lovers.

Rivington Não Rio, in keeping with Herren’s collaborative spirit, features Helado Negro, Rob Crow, Milo & Busdriver and Sam Dew. The album begins well, with Señora 95 (Intro), a wonderful ambient electro-drone that is reminiscent of modern minimalism. Applauded Assumptions has an excellently wonky hip-hop groove that lures the listener into thinking Herren is revitalizing his previous work from One World Extinguisher. Annoying as it is to see Herren surrender to the synthesizer, with the instrument flooding electronic music in recent years, it undeniably works well on this track.

Quiet One (feat. Rob Crow) shows promise with some unique guitar signal processing that alludes to a new musical direction. Unfortunately, it heads downhill from there. It's a significant understatement to say Rob Crow's lyrics are cringe-worthy while the music itself lacks substance. Through a Lit and Darkened Path (Pts. 1 + 2) shows potential with Herren’s unique textural layering, but falls into similar traps. Inside infuses musical elements heard from his previous release The One She Chapters, but the dramatized vocals destroy any credibility. 140 Jabs Interlude (feat. Milo & Busdriver) inserts ironic and angsty spoken word, but is ruined by Herren’s weak electronics.

Thankfully, Jacinto Lyric Range gives Prefuse 73 fans something to sink their teeth into. The three closing tracks See More Than Just Stars (feat. Helado Negro), Mojav Mating Call and Open Nerve Farewells, while not being inherently bad, don’t represent Herren at his best.

On the up side, Forsyth Gardens, released in Apri,l is more typical of Prefuse 73’s early styles and cuts much closer to the edge. With Every Color of Darkness scheduled for release in July, fans will hopefully not have to wait another four years to hear Herren do justice his (up until now) well deserved title.

- Paul Young.

Album Details

Album Title: Rivington Não Rio
Artist: Prefuse 73
Record Label: (Temporary Residence / Inertia)