n media res” would dictate we try and plunge ourselves into the steaming hot bath of keyboard glitches, boiling hot loops of IDM/techno echo, and found vocal samples Prefuse 73 (née Scott Herren) has been calling music for the last half decade.
But we know his strong points and his motifs, so it’s probably better to start with outright presentation. Still seemingly in recovery mode after the Life Studies-like power and exposure of 2003’s One Word Extinguisher, and the nightcap-ish lazy, vocal ensemble of last year’s Surrounded By Silence, Prefuse 73 is in a rut. And a bad one at that.
What was amazing about One Word Extinguisher is that it seemed to execute the verb it so brilliantly keeps in its title. As soon as a constant rhythm of synthesis would arise, a splash of digital bleach would snuff out all sense of orientation. A wild, digital fire came up in the destruction.
Now tracks like “Another One Long Gone” drag on with a dirge-y faux-tribal stomp gasping under warped loops of stretching, elastic snaps. The literal momentum seems sapped from most of the songs on Security Screenings. We’re trapped in essentially a birds-eye-view of this album. There are barely any emotional loci to zoom in on. For a digital maelstrom to be as pleasant as it is chaotic, there’s got to be more than a sluggish siren to anchor the listener (e.g. the tragically titled “Mud In Your Mouth”).
The “Asian” woodwinds are lazy on “One Star and Three Stripes” (apparently a tribute to Texas complete with indecipherable vocal samples) and seem trite enough for that other white-boy hip-hop producer, Scott Storch. Songs are cast-off ideas, sputtering samples that aren’t given enough time to take even temporary shape. It’s not surprising that one of the longest songs on the album is also one of the best: “With Dirt and Text – Two Versions of Love” actually uses the loop of the clarified bell to hook the listener, there’s a perfect balance of amoebic blips with the smoky-ridden bass line. As you can tell from the previous sentence, it’s the kind of success that renders most syntax and diction inadequate. It’s definitely the most Extinguisher / Narratives-like song on the album, and for those who need an eddy, it’s a refuge from the increasingly cold, alienating spasms found elsewhere here.
Career forecasting is usually a horrid way to express reaction to art, but with Security Screenings there’s little that’s intimate enough to evoke otherwise. Simply put, the pleasure has disintegrated since One Word Extinguisher and the music seems to sense it before anyone else. Herren doesn’t sound like he’s around to guide it.