Review : Prefuse 73 - Prefuse 73/Jaytram/Epstein
PitchforkReissues usually connote a repackaging and reappraisal of a classic or the re-introduction of something buried or overlooked. Asthmatic Kitty's campaign last year to re-release producer Roberto Carlos Lange's work as Epstein appeared less like a revelation than a gentle reminder of something unintentionally misplaced in the decade's deluge of music. The Brooklyn-by-way-of-Florida beatmaker and sound artist isn't exactly an unknown. He's released albums as Helado Negro, participated in Guillermo Scott Herren's Savath y Savalas project, produced Bear in Heaven's latest album, and collaborated with Juliana Barwick, among other projects. But the spliced-together sections of Epstein compositions on this remix disc make a case for revisiting that particular part of his back catalog, an eclectic one filled with dusty, laid-back beats and the occasional lyricism of jazz, like the trumpet on "Y Entonces".
Herren teamed up with Jason "Jaytram" Trammell, Yeasayer's drummer as well as a past collaborator on Epstein records, to re-appropriate and reshape Epstein's sound collages. While his band is known for kinetic and multilayered production, Jaytram's contributions often feel suspended, viscous melodies with samples stretched like taffy. "You Know They Out" gingerly steps forward, woozy and lightheaded, while "Haunted Hotel Beat" starts with a bulbous sample from "Needed" before lurching forward with half-speed swagger. The slightly tense "Joy Me"-- propelled in part by the chopped-up bassline from "Sin Pueblo", off 2005's Gente Sin Pueblo-- is topped off with the gorgeous vocals of "A Lost Animal" provided by Alejandra and Claudia Deheza from the School of Seven Bells.
Herren and Lange's shared history in Savath y Savalas isn't as evident on the Prefuse 73 remixes. Herren leans toward his short-attention-span style rather than his more Iberian, folktronica work, and tracks like the brief "Mar del Enfermo Abrazos" seem to corkscrew in on themselves. Granted, Herren could graft together any number of shape-shifting compositions from a handful of random albums, but it's a credit to Lange's range that Herren doesn't seem bored or limited by the source material....full text
MaxumiElectronic music isnít all about pounding four-to-the-floor beats, dirty synth basslines and catchy vocal divas. Once you leave the cosy realms of dance music, electronica is quite arguably the most vast and varied music there is.
I remember the day I first discovered instrumental Hip Hop and Downtempo music. I had a friend who was a bit older, and a lot more cool than me and he used to listen to Ďthe next big thingí usually a few years before it actually became big. Several years ago, I was round his house playing video games despite the glorious summer weather outside. He decided to replace the sound of the TV with his latest iTunes playlist. After about twenty minutes of listening I handed him a piece of paper and asked him to write down exactly what we were listening to.
I fell in love with several artists over the next couple of weeks as I discovered a range of Downtempo styles including instrumental Hip Hop, Illbient and Acid Jazz. Itís an incredibly flexible style of music, unbound by the strict production standards of House, Jungle or Electro and determined to keep its creativity as a non-mainstream genre.
Letís start talking about Prefuse 73/Jaytram/Epstein then. Available to buy as an mp3 download as of Monday, this is the latest example of the delights of Downtempo music. Itís technically a remix album, with Prefuse 73 and Jaytram taking the extensive works of Epstein and filtering it through their own creative systems. The result: quite possibly the most interesting album Iíve heard this year. Thereís something incredibly organic about the whole sound; it warmed me up as soon as I started playing track one. Everything is thick, loose and fat with a huge range of carefully manipulated samples. Nothing stays the same for more than a couple of seconds.
So is it any good? Creativity and experimentation doesnít automatically create a good album. Well itís tricky to compare it to anything already released as it doesnít really adhere strictly to any particular genre in the same way that mainstream electronic music does. Each track on the album is also very different, with Haunted Hotel Beat Ė a juicy and laid back Hip Hop romp followed by Learning Dream Ė a dark and tense shuffle with smoking hot brass sections. Iím even reluctant to shunt the album under the category of Downtempo because quite a few of the tracks arenít slow or relaxing at all. Well, I like it anyway. Thereís plenty of skill here too, from a creative and a production point of view. Despite the occasional use of retro drum samples and the chunks of orchestral score taken from Epstein, it manages to sound fresh at the same time as evoking the pleasures of nostalgia Ė something alternative electronica does best....full text
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