For the last 50 years, electronic music has been expanding the sonic pallet that we as listeners will accept as musical thought. Glitchy sine and square waves synthesized in dubstep, samples borrowed from the most bizarre and “unmusical” sources, all of these features of electronic music have influenced mainstream audiences and opened up our ears, allowing musicians infinite possibilities in the content they can use to create music. Guillermo Scott Herren is a musician/producer/composer taking full advantage of these experimental soundscapes. Born in Miami, FL, Herren has been engaged in a diverse range of musical styles from an early age, studying multiple instruments and branching out from the classical domain to hip-hop, punk rock and electronic music. He has been releasing albums under multiple aliases since 1997 and in 2001 released his first album under Prefuse 73.
The most recent project under Prefuse 73, the LP titled The Only She Chapters, is a mysterious collection of 18 tracks exploring ambient scenes with ethereal vocals and textures with both organic and extraterrestrial qualities. The album sets itself apart from Prefuse 73’s past work by taking less of a hip-hop or beat-and-loop-based approach. Instead, The Only She Chapters exemplifies Herren’s modern compositional style that was perhaps influenced by recently working with the Polish Ausko Orchestra in which Herren’s work was interpreted in a classical arrangement. Herren states that the album “can be seen as a departure from other albums, but it’s not a departure intended to leave people feeling alienated or baffled.”
The majority of the tracks on The Only She Chapters are composed using combinations of familiar samples and unfamiliar, mysterious synthesized sounds. The second track, “The Only Valentine’s Day Failure,” utilizes samples from Eastern-sounding string instruments, flutes and distorted guitars while also stretching the sound with eerily reverberant synthesized sounds and glitches. The track that highlights the album as Prefuse 73’s experiment in this new compositional direction is “The Only Repeat,” featuring layers of Björk-esque vocals climbing upon one another as they ping-pong between the left and right speakers. The track is pleasant and meditative. As distant piano chords strike under the layers of synth and voice, the cadences ground the listener in a world of unfolding sound that is the first completely pleasant area of the album.
The Only She Chapters is a singular work, and it should be listened to that way. You aren’t likely to find a single track that you’d want to put on repeat for the drive home from work, but the experience of listening from track to track, beginning to end, is a moving experience worth lending your ears.