Warp Records – 2005 - 61 minutes

Scott Herren records under many pseudonyms, but it is as Prefuse 73 that he has produced his best, most innovative work.

'Surrounded By Silence' is the fourth Prefuse 73 album and sees the Barcelona-based producer take his cerebral brand of chopped-up hip-hop on a trip into unusually personal territory.

Here Herren enlists some heavyweight guests: Ghostface Killah and El-P provide the rhymes on 'Hideyaface'; Aesop Rock pops up on 'Sabbatical With Options' and the album is crammed with diverse spots, from the indie bleeping of labelmates Broadcast to the imposing rumble of Wu-Tang's GZA.

Herren snaps out of being star-struck on 'Ty Versus Detchibe' and gets down to delivering the real Prefuse 73. This combination of horns, wordless vocal snatches and the scattered of a fractured jazz drummer is miles beyond being a mere backing track for an MC.

'Surrounded By Silence' also shows the influence of Herren's side-project Savath & Savalas, particularly on the hypnotic vocals of 'Pastel Assassins'.

Most of all, this album is shot through with the misery of breaking up. With song titles like 'Now You're Leaving', 'Pagina Dos' and 'We Go Our Own Way' and indeed, the title of the album itself, Herren wears his recent emotional trauma on his sleeve.

The presence of so many big names seems to have inhibited the progression of the Prefuse sound. Deconstructed hip-hop relies on a ferocious testing of the genre's boundaries, Prefuse's very name is a reference to the pre-fusion era of experimental jazz.

When it shrugs off the fetters of the guest vocalists this album
occasionally flies to new heights. There might be a hint of stagnation from 'Surrounded By Silence', but no-one else rebuilds hip-hop from the bottom up while sounding so good.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: I've Said All I Need to Say About Them (Intro) -Hideyaface (featuring Ghostface and El-p) - Bad Memory Interlude One - Ty Versus Detchibe (featuring Tyondai Braxton) -Expressing Views Is Obviously Illegal - Pastel Assassins(featuring Claudia and Alejandra Deheza) - Pagina Dos (featuring The Books) - Silencio Interlude - Now You're Leaving (featuring Camu) Gratis (Pedro Versus Prefuse) - We Go Our Own Way(featuring Kazu) - Mantra Two (featuring Tyondai Braxton) -Sabbatical With Options (featuring Aesop Rock) - It's Crowded(featuring Claudia Deheza) - Just the Thought (featuring Masta Killa and GZA) - La Correccion Exchange (featuring DJ Nobody) - Hideyaface Reprise (Reminder Version) - Morale Crusher(featuring Beans) - Minutes Away Without You - Rain Edit Interlude - And I'm Gone (featuring Prefuse Versus Piano Overlord Versus Broadcast Versus Café)