The Groove Seeker: Epstein’s Prefuse 73 / Jaytram / Epstein

On a weekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.

Epstein: Prefuse 73 / Jaytram / Epstein (Asthmatic Kitty, 12/14/10)

Jaytram: “You Know They Out”

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Though Roberto Lange’s year has been busier than usual, the multitasking musician (also known as Helado Negro) has found the time to pack in another release before the year is over. Well, kind of. The back catalog of Epstein, Lange’s longtime electronic project, has received a complete cut-and-paste overhaul by beat conductor Prefuse 73 and drummer Jaytram (of Yeasayer), making for a record aptly titled Prefuse 73 / Jaytram / Epstein.

It is a fitting year-end release for the NYC-based artist and producer, who, in 2010 alone, released a new Epstein full-length, a new Helado Negro EP, worked on a number of remixes, and saw Asthmatic Kitty reissue four Epstein records that were never released outside of Japan until now.  The re-releases spawned not so much a remix album but an absolute dismantling and revision of his obscure recordings. The albums, recorded with Miami-based Beta Bodega label, serve as a wealthy groove print for Prefuse and Jaytram, who respectively split the duties.

Although the producers have taken Epstein’s tunes two different directions, the record flows seamlessly between the two. Owning the first half of the record, Jaytram takes a more mellowed stance, leaning towards renditions from the soul and funk spectrum.  “Haunted Hotel Beat” is a heavy dub track interspersed with some perfectly placed vocal sampling. With its pulsing 808 bass kick and industrial nodes that fade in and out, the track reaches a dynamic tension that unfolds with every bar. Jaytram creates a delicate aura with tracks that have a warm, sun-touched feel made for a sleepy afternoon.

But Prefuse 73, a.k.a. Guillermo Scott Herren, re-imagines the Epstein catalog with a bit more urgency. Though Herren has created music in seemingly every genre, electronic- and hip-hop-heads will be most familiar with his dizzying percussive patterns and intuitive sampling ethos. Fortunately, Herren doesn’t step out of his jurisdiction for this special project. Creating a nice continuity with Jaytram’s work with “Moda de Hormigó,” Herren subdues the listener before launching into some intensely crowded, textured arrangements.

Prefuse keeps it busy, achieving a certain rhythmic dodging that keeps fans from doing the same 4/4 head bob over and over. “Temporal Tempo” is strung loosely together by a few dozen samples, while the last track, “Seite Campanas de la Serenidad,” is a ravishing finale with complex reverberating layers that are caught in a deliberate repeat.

Prefuse 73 / Jaytram / Epstein is an expertly executed collaboration album that should be heard, even if you’re unfamiliar with Epstein’s previous work. Plus, as an extra incentive, the album is currently available on Epstein’s Bandcamp page on a pay-what-you-want basis.

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