Prefuse 73: Rivington Nao Rio

The second of three releases for 2015, Rivington Nao Rio finds Guillermo Herren testing his ability as collaborator and producer, and ever-so-slightly evolving his acoustic-tinged electronic formula.

Prefuse 73

Rivington Nao Rio

Label: Temporary Residence
US Release Date: 2015-05-12
UK Release Date: 2015-05-11
Label website
Artist website

Guillermo S. Herren, aka Prefuse 73, returns this month with his first full length album in four years, bringing back his elusive brand of electronic mostly unchanged from the sound of his 2011 release The Only She Chapters. That's not to say that Herren hasn't evolved throughout his career, as his sound has become increasingly removed from the fragmented hip-hop drone of his One Word Extinguisher days, moving instead towards more acoustic territory while still making use of his signature fractured beats and dissonant soundscapes. But what is immediately apparent on Herren's latest release, Rivington Nao Rio, is a newfound focus on bringing melody, previously buried underneath whirring electronics and layers of samples on earlier releases, to the fore. The knock on Prefuse 73 from the outset had always been a perceived lack of immediacy, thereby making his records much tougher nuts to crack than those by his early '00s contemporaries like Four Tet, Boom Bip, and Daedelus.

Whether or not Rivington is a direct challenge to those early assessments is unimportant this late in the game, but what is very clear is Herren's decision to create more obvious points of entry for new listeners in the form of, you guessed it, melodies. Rivington starts things off with what we've come to expect from Prefuse, in the form of the fairly standard IDM workout "Applauded Assumptions", pulsing with jazz textures and stuttering 808 hits that have become typical of the Prefuse palette. But the first real break from Herren's past output arrives on the album's third track, "Quiet One", featuring a vocal contribution from Pinback's Rob Crow. With its sliced-up acoustic samples and reverb-soaked guitars, it ends up sounding less like a Prefuse track with a guest spot, and more like a true collaboration between the two artists, which suits them both rather well. "Quiet One" is also perhaps the most "song-like" track released under Prefuse 73's name, sporting a fairly traditional verse-chorus structure and gently descending melody lifted straight from 2004's Summer in Abaddon.

Speaking of collaborations, there are plenty on Rivington, four out of the album's 11 tracks feature guest artists. Along with "Quiet One", the most successful collaboration is "Infrared", featuring Sam Dew, best known for his contributions to Wale's 2013 single "LoveHate Thing". Like "Quiet One" it works because Herren allows his guest to add their stamp to the song rather than confining them to a traditional guest appearance, which oddly enough, is why the other two collaborations on the record don't work. "140 Jabs Interlude" featuring rappers Milo and Busdriver sees their off-kilter lyrical styles clashing rather awkwardly with Herren's subdued electronics, and Helado Negro's turn on "See More Than Just Stars" is a case of two similar artists cancelling each other out for a rather unremarkable track.

But there is enough good stuff on here to satisfy Prefuse 73 fans who've waited patiently since 2011 for a new full length. "Jacinto Lyric Range" gracefully mixes a grimey two-step rhythm and heavenly synths, while the album's strongest track "Inside" is an effective piece of glistening folktronica that recalls the best of Four Tet's early career. There are dull moments as well, particularly on the string-heavy "Mojav Mating Call" that simply doesn't go anywhere, and "Open Nerve Farewells" which takes a BoC style analog-synth riff and promptly buries it underneath a cavalcade of electronic squelches and samples.

Rivington Nao Rio stands to be one of three Prefuse 73 releases in 2015, along with April's Forsyth Gardens and the forthcoming Every Color of Darkness. If this year's first two are any indication, we're learning that Herren is becoming the kind of electronic producer who works best with a more traditional songwriter, and if he can find the right partners, that may be just where he's headed entering the second decade of his recording career.





Nazis, Nostalgia, and Critique in Taika Waititi's 'Jojo Rabbit'

Arriving amidst the exhaustion of the past (21st century cultural stagnation), Waititi locates a new potential object for the nostalgic gaze with Jojo Rabbit: unpleasant and traumatic events themselves.


Why I Did Not Watch 'Hamilton' on Disney+

Just as Disney's Frozen appeared to deliver a message of 21st century girl power, Hamilton hypnotizes audiences with its rhyming hymn to American exceptionalism.


LA Popsters Paper Jackets Deliver a Message We Should Embrace (premiere + interview)

Two days before releasing their second album, LA-based pop-rock sextet Paper Jackets present a seemingly prescient music video that finds a way to ease your pain during these hard times.


'Dancing After TEN' Graphic Memoir Will Move You

Art dances with loss in the moving double-memoir by comics artists Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber, Dancing After TEN.


Punk Rock's WiiRMZ Rage at the Dying of the Light on 'Faster Cheaper'

The eight songs on WiiRMZ's Faster Cheaper are like a good sock to the jaw, bone-rattling, and disorienting in their potency.


Chris Stamey Paints in "A Brand-New Shade of Blue" (premiere + interview)

Chris Stamey adds more new songs for the 20th century with his latest album, finished while he was in quarantine. The material comes from an especially prolific 2019. "It's like flying a kite and also being the kite. It's a euphoric time," he says.


Willie Nelson Surveys His World on 'First Rose of Spring'

Country legend Willie Nelson employs his experience on a strong set of songs to take a wide look around him.


Gábor Lázár Is in Something of a Holding Pattern on 'Source'

Experimental electronic artist Gábor Lázár spins his wheels with a new album that's intermittently exciting but often lacking in variety.


Margo Price Is Rumored to Be the New Stevie Nicks

Margo Price was marketed as country rock because of her rural roots. But she was always more rock than country, as one can hear on That's How Rumors Get Started.


DMA'S Discuss Their Dancier New Album 'The Glow'

DMA'S lead-singer, Tommy O'Dell, discusses the band's new album The Glow, and talks about the dancier direction in their latest music.


The Bacon Brothers Deliver Solemn Statement With "Corona Tune" (premiere + interview)

Written and recorded during the 2020 quarantine, "Corona Tune" exemplifies the Bacon Brothers' ability to speak to the gravity of the present moment.


Garage Rockers the Bobby Lees Pay Tribute to "Wendy" (premiere)

The Bobby Lees' "Wendy" is a simmering slice of riot 'n' roll that could have come from the garage or the gutter but brims with punk attitude.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.