By David Colburn
Sound can be an adventure; a dense, disturbing journey through the depths of some cold buzzing underworld, or a weightless flight through the greatest peaks of an aural paradise. When an album confidently approaches both poles, the result is worth noting; the work is strong and the music is memorable.
Prepare to journey alongside a soundtrack of The Only She Chapters, the latest release from experimental electronic artist Prefuse 73. Before departing, one should know that this is not a simple tale of happiness gone awry, or evil being conquered. The Only She Chapters flows in a delirious pattern of moody loops and sprawling streams. A shifting sonic journey from dark knotted forestry to open ethereal neon-green ranges is dipped in layers of static ambience.
Be prepared, the venture begins in a veil of nocturnal haziness. “The Only Recollection of Where Life Stopped” should indicate tense nature by its very namesake. A slow segue into “The Only Valentine’s Day Failure” brings an emotional shift; the exotic clattering of percussion represents love’s shortcoming and disarray, while the swell of the woodwinds brings a sweet, if brief, sense of relief. That vaguely optimistic sensation echoes through “The Only Contact She’s Willing to Give,” which plays like the musical after-effect of some lavish and poetic springtime concerto.
Blissfulness soon becomes a goal along the journey, as certain tracks ascend toward a new sonic nirvana with greater fervor. “The Only Chamber Resolve” finds beautiful harmonies forming in a dense, bustling grove of rough electronic rhythm; “The Only Way to Find” pushes even further into almost spiritual proportions. Perhaps the greatest example arrives in the seemingly endless, yet gorgeous patterns of “The Only Repeat” near the end of The Only She Chapters. Listeners may slip into a sense of unfiltered security, noting that the adventure has almost reached its ultimate resolution: who wouldn’t enjoy a peaceful ending?
Prefuse 73 could not let the album end on such simple terms. “The Only Recycled Intro” returns to the disturbing depths of the opening track, and the listener will sit in an equally petrified state as it twists around the eardrums. Other tracks build on that contrast and construct a unique reaction: one will be torn between comfort and fear, with one eye contently closed and one looking over one’s shoulder. The reaction may sound unsavory, but rest assured; it is an unforgettable response to an equally unforgettable sound adventure.