It’s a quieter night than usual at the Sugar Club with Choice Cuts head-honcho Mark Murphy currently on the decks, while punters sip their drinks in the comfort of the trellised, candle-lit booths. It’s unusual not to see the bar thronged and eager fans leaning against the wood-panelled aisles. Maybe that’s because Prefuse 73 has always been something of an outsider, retaining a widely respected yet underground status as a producer. If his last album, the dark and eerie The Only She Chapters is anything to go by, this is something that Prefuse 73 thrives on. With eighteen tracks that sound like they were written for some freaked-out horror flick, it would be enough to scare any listener off the prospects of having to endure such sounds on a Friday night. Thankfully, he seems to have left that section of his repertoire at home tonight.
At around half eleven Prefuse arrives on stage, decked out in a pair of amber shades, beanie and brown anorak. There’s very little by way of an introduction, except for a series of eccentric noises that he begins to trigger with his luminescent midi controller, before launching into familiar hip-hop beats backed by fat bass synths and complex polyrhythms. After 10 minutes or so, a few people brave the dancefloor, which can be slightly daunting on quieter nights at the Sugar Club, but soon enough the floor is filling up and Prefuse is dropping all manner of beats. From Dilla-esque arrangements to noisier electronic compositions there’s a wide gamut of styles to tune in to. Every once in a while one of his more substantial tracks is peppered into the mix, such as ‘DEC. Machine Funk All ERA’s’ and ‘Nature’s Uplifting Revenge’ from 2009’s Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian, or ‘Storm Returns’ from the decade old One Word Extinguisher.
Because of the wide range of styles and the multitude of short tracks that he plays tonight, it becomes difficult for the audience to get into any kind of groove. It’s a fractured and disjointed performance but perhaps this is more a reflection of his greater oeuvre as a musician. As a producer who has never been able to settle on a particular style, Prefuse 73 has been able to remain somewhat aloof from his counterparts while also maintaining a certain degree of mystery. It’s not until the very last track (which sounds a bit like some of TOKiMONSTA’s recent pop efforts) that things really start to gel. It’s a shame then that there’s no encore, but that was never on the cards. For those of us who did venture out it was an entertaining gig but just not a very easy one to become immersed in.