Prefuse 73, “New Strategies for Modern Crime Vol​.​1”
By John Morrison · March 15, 2024 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD)

For his latest album, New Strategies for Modern Crime Vol. 1, jazz-informed hip-hop producer Guillermo Scott Herren, aka Prefuse 73, builds upon the musical language developed by the film scores of composers like Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin, and Herbie Hancock. Inspired by our country’s obsession with crime reporting and crime-tracking apps like Citizen, Herren’s work on New Strategies digs deep into the cinematic possibilities of jazz.

In a way, the relationship between jazz and film was fated. Both mediums were born at the tail end of the 19th century, and both would go on to exert an outsized influence on popular culture, art, and intellectual life throughout the 20th. Inevitably, the two mediums would meet in a collision facilitated both by popular tastes and technological innovation. The first films were rudimentary, single-shot experiments with no color or sound, and the earliest cinematic representations of jazz musicians and jazz as an art form lacked complexity, limited to documentary-style depictions of their performances. Soundtracks brought the jazz musician into the creative process, transforming the musician from subject to agent. Like the true samplist/sound archivist he is, Herren adopts this role and the history behind it, transforming the music of the past into something fresh and new.

“Clean Up Scene Apprentice” opens the album with an understated drum pattern and muted bassline. Herren conjures an atmosphere of anticipation here, like film noir updated for a contemporary context. “Desperate Demise” opens with unsettling whispers and tape-like effects before jumping into a low-key, orchestral instrumental. “Empath Lords” turns on the lights with its lush arrangement of synth, flute, cello and vibraphone. The brief, energizing “Forever Chase (Scene One)” picks up the pace with deft, up-tempo kick and snare patterns that contrast with prepared piano. And “Full Recollection” offers the fullest fusion of Herren’s hip-hop roots and cinematic jazz: Over a slow, pounding drum pattern, Herre layers a dramatic orchestral section and a trippy monophonic synth solo, creating something both grand and psychedelic. Nothing here feels busy or rushed; it’s an unassuming score that’s aching to be paired with images to match.

By allowing ourselves to be moved and changed emotionally by a film or a piece of music, we open ourselves up to the shared experiences that art can produce. New Strategies for Modern Crime Vol. 1 gets to the heart of the matter by building a sonic environment that is sometimes tense, other times uplifting, but always funky.

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