Prefuse 73
The Summit, Columbus, January 22
by Dorian S. Ham

Guillermo Scott Herren, better known as Prefuse 73, has always been a hard man to pin down. While he’s best known as being the king of glitch-hop, a closer look at his catalog shows that he’s had more up his sleeve. Over the course of 13 years and five aliases, he’s managed to drop more than 30 releases ranging from the aforementioned glitch-hop to the more organically Brazilian-influenced Savath y Savalas and the prog rock of his newest project, Diamond Watch Wrist. You’re never quite sure who’s going to show up when you pop on one of Herren’s releases.

Despite the fact that I’ve seen Herren on two other occasions, once as a solo act, the next with a full band that featured two drummers, for this show, I was in the dark as into what I might be walking. Adding to the confusion was the fact that Herron was potentially touring in support for not one but three full-length records he put out in May: Prefuse 73’s Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian, Diamond Watch Wrist’s Ice Capped At Both Ends and Savath y Savalas’ La Llama.

Well, the answer was clear within seconds of Herren hitting the stage with a drummer and extra knob-twiddler. This was all about the Prefuse 73 brand. The show was sold out, a testament to the enduring power of Prefuse 73’s breakthrough album, One Word Extinguisher. That may be a slight exaggeration, but a casual survey of the crowd saw huge gaps of knowledge in the Prefuse catalog, with few knowing he’d had put out three new records only eight months ago. But we could all agree that One Word Extinguisher was fuckin’ awesome.

Call the live version of Prefuse 73 the anti–Girl Talk. While the world’s most famous laptop jock hits the stage with a computer and makes everyone wonder what the hell he’s actually doing, the set-up for Herren and his unnamed accomplice was a jumble of gear, microphones, effect boxes, miles of cords and a guitar. There was no telling exactly who was doing what or even how they might be creating the sounds they were making, but it certainly looked impressive. The two were so into it that it helped sell the assault of broken beats. Because anyone expecting strictly hip-hop beats was in for quite a surprise. The show was noisier and slightly more noise rock-oriented; Herren ended the show playing noisy guitar, but always managed to comeback to head-nodding beats. It was a definite journey across the many moods of Prefuse 73.

Ironically, the most unquestionably live aspect of the show, the drummer, is what fell flat. From my original vantage point, I wasn’t aware that there was a drummer on stage until someone pointed it out to me. After making my way to the side of the stage and sitting no more than five feet away from the skinsman, I could still barely hear him. Maybe he was just nervous or under-rehearsed—according to Herren, it was only the fourth show of the tour—but he seemed kind of lost and rarely connected. It was a missed opportunity to provide the extra punch the show could have used.

The problem with the drummer is indicative of the performance. While the show was good, it lacked a certain something to put it over the edge. You couldn’t question the quality, only the presentation. Yet the unpredictable nature of Herren is what makes him interesting, so it’s wise to stay tuned.
Dorian S. Ham