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.
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.