Scott Herren was due for a vanity project. With last year’s One Word Extinguisher, the former Atlanta resident had taken the fractured-funk adventures of Prefuse 73 as far as they needed to go. Another disc of heady hiphop cubism would have been overkill, and our man seemed to know it early on: Before One Word even hit the streets, Herren had moved to Barcelona to get in touch with his family history; bonded with an unknown Catalan singer-songwriter named Eva Puyuelo Muns; resurrected his postrock side project, Savath & Savalas; and soaked the whole experience in pan-Latino folk. Herren’s new direction had plenty of potential for artistic disaster, but the result, Apropa’t, is anything but a mess. The usually mute producer sings many of the hushed, overdubbed melodies with Muns, crafting a restrained, downcast sound that seems at first to have little to do with his busier work as Prefuse. It’s all very dreamy and cinematic, borrowing from Os Mutantes’ psychedelia one minute and the stylish Euro-indie pop of Tahiti 80 and La Buena Vida the next. But almost every tune has an anchor that keeps it from floating too far into the ether: Tortoise’s John McEntire and John Herndon provide much of the drums and bass, and their sense of big-beat timing is a constant reminder that Herren’s primary romance—as stormy as it may be—is with hiphop. The headphone-ready “Te Quiero Pero por Otro Lado…” and “Colores sin Nombre,” for instance, have bottom halves that can’t be ignored, no matter how much soft acoustic foofaraw gets piled on top. Indeed, every piece of percussion here is carefully placed and beautifully recorded—but perhaps Apropa’t is a bit too nuanced. The disc’s sense of mystery tends to recede after a while, giving its second half a wallpapery feel. “Why’d She Come?” is worth hanging on for, though, even 11 tracks in: After a minute or so of airy, multilayered guitars, Herren introduces some subtle glitch work, and as those techno tricks increase, the song artfully disintegrates. It’s a touch of Prefuse, lightened by all the influence of a dry, sunny city. —Joe Warminsky

More from WCP