Prefuse 73 – Reads the Books EP

Prefuse 73
Reads the Books EP

It would be harder to find a more appropriate collaboration than that between the Books and Prefuse 73 (sorry Jay-Z and Linkin Park). The Books is an experimental outing between two guys – players of guitar and violin, respectively – that specialize in spreading sonic textures over bread-and-butter instrumentals, sprinkling the results with tasteful spoken-word and atmospheric audio snippets. Prefuse 73 – government name Scott Herren, of Atlanta – cuts and splices audio into new and beautiful Frankenstein creations using his computer.

The juxtaposition of acoustic and electronic is nothing new, but given the two sides’ skill in handling sonic textures, Prefuse 73 Reads the Books has enormous potential. Herren handles a number of Books songs in seven full tracks and one intro, deconstructing and subsequently layering the various instruments and vocal tracks, cooling the Books’ warm sound down only slightly with the introduction of his electronic aesthetic.

“Página Dos” lifts the banjo plucking from “The Lemon of Pink,” while Herren skillfully layers an angelic female chorus that floats somewhere in the ether above. “Página Cinco” offers slithering violin and greasy bass propelled by plodding drums featuring Prefuse’s signature sharp snare. “Página Siete” is characterized by a skipping beat surrounded by sparkling strings and guitar. “Página Ocho” is the most disembodied of the tracks; Herren forgoes the omnipresent Prefusian percussion, opting instead for a gentle crescendo achieved over three minutes’ time, climaxing with chanting female vocals.

But perhaps the most fully realized collaborative effort on Prefuse 73 Reads the Books is the sixth track. “Página Seis” leaves the extremely effective strumming from “The Lemon of Pink” largely intact, filling in the space around it with gently prodding percussion and repetitive guitar picks. The result is simultaneously relaxing and stimulating, organic and synthesized – and that’s the most impressive thing about the song: the talents of both the Books and Prefuse 73 are utilized to their fullest.

Prefuse 73 Reads the Books is, in the end, a gratifying – if not totally awe-inspiring – collaboration between two artists who are excellent in their own right. The mash-up is pleasing in general, offering a welcomed juxtaposition of elements which seem on their surface to be opposing, but actually work quite well together. Fans of either the Books or Prefuse 73 should pick this up.