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Prefuse 73 (aka Scott Herren) is a one-man beat Cuisinart whose sonic spray bridges hip hop and electronica

There's a strange design flaw in one of Noe Valley's neighborhood coffee shops: The builders installed the cafe's overhead fan directly below one of the ceiling-mounted speakers, so that if you happen to be standing directly beneath the spot where the blades mangle the speaker's output, the shop's cool jazz froths like Frappuccino into a weird, spluttering connect-the-dots of disjointed notes and syllables. While the ensuing sonic spray must be disconcerting for hapless customers, admirers of Prefuse 73 (aka Scott Herren, under a name designed to reflect his fondness for pre-1973 jazz fusion) would doubtless be thrilled to hear the Atlanta producer's hallmark style sneak into mass consumption, no matter how inadvertently.

Herren is a one-man beat Cuisinart, slicing, dicing, and puréeing samples into a chunky, fizzy mix of syncopated rhythms and stuttering vocals. He's as much a maestro of the sampler as DJ Shadow. But where Shadow melds long instrumental phrases into dense, top-heavy assemblages, Prefuse 73 chops his samples into byte-size morsels, seemingly as attracted to the blank spaces between breaks as to the beats themselves.

David Naugle


RJD2 and A Grape Dope open

Friday, May 16, at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $16 ($34.95 with dinner)


Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F.

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Incorporating snippets of Erykah Badu songs, guest raps from the likes of Mr. Lif, and the melancholic synthesizers of Boards of Canada, Herren has gone a long way toward bridging the worlds of hip hop and electronica. What the two genres share, of course, is that they're both performance-challenged, depending heavily on prerecorded music. But Herren's button-pushing appearance this week with up-and-coming DJ RJD2 and solo electronic producer A Grape Dope (Tortoise drummer Johnny Herndon) attempts to find a way out of the laptop cul-de-sac. Herndon backs up the notebook-toting Herren on drums and sampler, allowing the Prefuse 73 tunes to stretch out into a more improvisatory form that's live and Memorex all at once.

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