On its first outing for Paw Tracks, Prince Rama proves that mystical Hindu rites do, indeed, sound even cooler through delay pedals and a Sega Genesis as backing. This isn’t just another trio of chanting heretical art students, however; Shadow Temple gathers and passes like a fractal sonic thunderhead, expanding, striking, and then lulling the listener with a cool patter of electronic rain. “Lightening Fossil” is a testament to the band’s prowess in musical dynamics and “Mythras,” shot through with green fog and lasers, soars like an interplanetary hang glider.
Maybe the best thing about Prince Rama is that the band is truly weird. The trio consists of former members of a Krishna collective in Florida, the two sisters, Taraka and Nimai Larson, and Michael Collins. All three grew up participating in the religious chants and rituals. Though they have moved out into the larger world, and some of them have perhaps lapsed, nothing describes this album—their fourth overall, but their first for Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks—as well as “ritualistic”.
The Boston/Brooklyn-based trio known as Prince Rama gets a break on their fourth full-length. Signed to Animal Collective's Paw Tracks imprint after member Avey Tare caught them at South by Southwest, he and A.C.'s Deakin subsequently produced Shadow Temple. Musically, Prince Rama -- sisters Tanaka and Nimai Larson, and Michael Collins -- are inspired to create tribal psychedelia by borrowing a chapter from Amon Düül II's hypnospheric playbook.
At the moment, reality is a bit hard to stomach. Events become increasingly stranger and ever more alarming each day. Even during the Bush regime, I always maintained hope that people would eventually come to their senses, that they would see the folly of neoconservative policies, that religious fundamentalism, blind patriotism, and a false notion of the American Dream hadn’t permeated enough of Amerika to send us spiraling into an environment of rabid fear leading to a new era of McCarthyism or worse.
If there's such a thing as cred in psychedelic music, Prince Rama have got it. The three-piece, comprising sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson and friend Michael Collins, grew up in a Hare Krishna community where their version of Sunday mass was a ceremony with people "chanting and dancing and freaking out," they told us back in June. Some of their tracks are based on Sanskrit chants, and they rep artists like Paul Laffoley, a dude who makes paintings about time machines and wormholes.
In Hindu cosmology, Rama is an ancient king and one of the 10 incarnations of the supreme deity Vishnu. In his life, Rama had to survive 14 years of exile and defeat his wife's kidnapper before being crowned king, at which point he ushered in an era of peace and harmony. Rama's tenure as prince, then, is the troubled time preceding his ascension to the throne.