Prefuse 73 – The End Of Air

Album : New Strategies For Modern Crime Volume 1

Composer : Guillermo Scott Herren
Label : Lex Records
© 2024 Lex Records

Nearly every producer who ever assembled a beat eventually gets the cinematic itch—the urge to create music that fulfills some curious personal idea for a score to a film that exists in their sprawling imagination. Guillermo Scott Herren’s thinking noir for his own take on this tendency, and New Strategies for Modern Crime Vol. 1 evokes a blur of its mood-setting characteristics across generations—the early wave’s orchestral tension, the postwar era’s jazz-steeped lurid bleakness, and neo-noir’s hip-hop-break-driven momentum. And it clicks on a deeper level in that it teases out the ironies inherent in crafting a soundtrack that scores sordid bloodletting with depth, sophistication, and beauty.

The balance between those moods is struck remarkably, often with a hazy Boards of Canada-esque hauntological analog synth seeping through the window-blind refractions of a ’70s paranoia thriller (“Full Recollection”; “Empath Lords”) or a meditative-yet-searching blend of post-rock and spiritual-jazz (“Lullabyes and Awakenings”; “Clean Up Scene Apprentice”). Elsewhere Prefuse works with a direct sense of pastiche that feints at the sort of post-acid-jazz that accompanied ’90s heist-flick revivalism (“She Needs No Introduction”) or borderline-avant orchestral-post-bop material that shifts from the disorienting, colorful pulp of ’60s giallo to a tauter, tenser Michael Mann Cali-scape heat (“Fare La Coma [Full Scene]”). The big twist to this album’s narrative is its climax is saved for the first act instead of the third: “A Lord Without Jewels” streamlines all these moods into a slow-burn, pre-dawn march that feels like being tailed all night by a malevolent yet lonely presence you can neither fully shake nor put your finger on.

© Nate Patrin/Qobuz