After proggy detours and veering off into other musical identities, Guillermo Scott Herren returns with Rivington Não Rio under the guise of Prefuse 73. It’s an update to the sampled and synthetic sounds that made him something of a hip-hop and electronica phenomenon about 15 years back, not a rousing reimagination of his approach to music.
Herren’s catalog of work has clearly begotten folks like Helado Negro—who makes an appearance here—as well as an envoy of glitchy, hip hop-centric producers. And while 2009’s Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian might have shocked listeners and The Only She Chapters from a few years later assimilated a host of female vocalists, there was something ominous about the proceedings. With Rivington Não Rio, Herren resurrects all the spacey, lackadaisical beatmaking of his past, balancing the darkness with some jubilant guest appearances.
Busdriver, a guy more talented than his popularity has ever indicated, crops up on “140 Jabs Interlude” alongside a dour Milo to spit out rapid-paced verses about futility and indifference. The perfectly rounded synthesis of electronic and jazz tendencies extends from this one moment throughout the album, also bubbling up on “Through a Lit and Darkened Path, Pts. 1 & 2,” when Herren’s composition rests vibraphone and string samples atop stuttering, shuffled beats.
It’s all a bit more sedate than earlier works, like One World Extinguisher and the paranoid Security Screenings. But with each turn Herren handles in his career, listeners should be able to detect his sonic world expanding ever so slightly upon each return to this long-playing format. His Prefuse 73 work continues to cultivate a distinct vocabulary, capable of drawing on classical, krautrock or Latin sounds. And Herren’s a smart enough producer to understand how slowly marshaling an ever-broadening palette works when contrasted with his rhythmic ideals.