Prefuse 73

Forsyth Gardens

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Forsyth Gardens is one of a series of releases marking Guillermo Scott Herren's 2015 return to the Prefuse 73 moniker on Brooklyn's Temporary Residence Limited after splitting with Warp Records following 2011 full-length The Only She Chapters. This EP finds Herren picking up where he left off, continuing to create downtempo hip-hop beats with cut-up vocal samples and dreamy atmospherics. Herren hasn't significantly updated his sound during his four-year absence, but it hardly matters because the production style established with Prefuse's 2000 debut EP has proven to be massively influential, not only to abstract hip-hop producers such as Flying Lotus, but left-field electronic pop artists such as Purity Ring and ODESZA. His maximalist, sometimes overstuffed production style has become a hallmark of producers such as Rustie, and his calmer, more reflective moments have helped usher in chillwave and other postmodern Internet-spawned genres. So his absence has hardly been felt, as his sound has always been prevalent, which is not to say his return is unwelcome. While Herren's recordings often (but not always) feature extensive guest appearances by various singers and MCs, this EP only contains one song with proper vocals, "Infrared Remix," featuring Chicago-based singer Sam Dew, which recalls Prefuse's previous collaborations with School of Seven Bells. As with previous releases, the aggressively cut-up vocal samples and detailed production make his instrumentals feel like much more than just sketches waiting for a vocalist. Tracks such as "Still Pretending" seem to tell a story without having any comprehensible lyrics. Another highlight, "You Are Now Poison," changes tempos and rhythms several times, and weaves a complex array of rhythms and melodies, creating a dense, overflowing collage of controlled chaos. "Genderations" similarly balances frenetic percussion and slivers of soul vocals with more languid piano. The EP packs so many ideas into its 30-minute running time that it feels like far more than just a warmup for a long-awaited full-length, and it proves that Herren has lost none of his steam during his time away.

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