Release Date: Oct 4, 2011
Record label: Paw Tracks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
What must it be like, I wonder, to discover that American musicians think your religion is trippy? To discover your most closely held beliefs about life and death and right and wrong have been reduced to a handful of stylized gestures to establish a singular “sound” and “look”? These questions cross my mind as I listen to Prince Rama’s latest, hearing their ululations in Sanskrit and taking in the disco-opium-den cover art. But I don’t want to write that kind of review. Those types of questions turn me into an authenticity cop: Nothing to hear here.
After 2010's Shadow Temple, Prince Rama's debut offering for Paw Tracks, the group shed guitarist-vocalist Michael Collins, leaving sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson a duo. On Trust Now, the band's fourth full-length, there is a sonic shift, with the Larson sisters doing almost everything themselves; percussionist Paul Kikuchi helps in various places, as does engineer Scott Colburn. Prince Rama's sound, while always cosmic and informed by East Indian and Gothic sources, is even more so, yet it has become enigmatic here.
The question of authenticity occasionally rears its head to anyone with more than a passing interest in modern music. When Western (usually American or British, and white) bands or artists use the influence of so-called ethnic music, or even lift a sound altogether, who is to say the results are any less worthwhile than those made by indigenous musicians? Take the example of Vampire Weekend. Their rather conservative indie rock sound is bolstered by a guitar style lifted practically wholesale from King Sunny Ade.
Hitting Number Three in the Billboard New Age chart with your last album is an achievement to wear sparingly lest you get mistaken for whale music artists, which siblings Taraka and Nimai Larson really aren’t. In fact, despite the hand-twirling dancing and the air they give off of having found themselves on retreat in Kashmir, the Brooklyn duo’s fifth album is less pan-pipe chill-out and more a brooding and oppressive morass of sound akin to a shamanistic [a]Zola Jesus[/a] – all thrums, howls and echoes, eddying rhythms, scurrying drums and, weirdly, the slowed-down hoover from Belgian hardcore. Just ignore the jazz-handy group psychiatry of ‘[b]Trust[/b]’.[i]Chris Parkin[/i] .
When Pitchfork's Joe Colly reviewed Prince Rama's fourth album, Shadow Temple, he signed off by hinting that the band's psych experiments "might become something more" in the future. A little over a year later, Trust Now has arrived, again on Animal Collective's Paw Tracks imprint, to test out that prognosis. A few things have changed in the intervening months-- they've slimmed down to a duo of sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson after their fellow founding member Michael Collins went on hiatus from the group, and Scott Colburn (Sun City Girls, Arcade Fire) replaced Avey Tare and Deakin in the producers' chair.
Prince Rama thrives on creating music that’s an otherworldly experience with tribal psych inspired by a childhood in a Hare Krishna community. Following a much buzzed debut onto Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label with their fourth release the duo returns a year later with Trust Now. With a band member on hiatus (Michael Collins), the two sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson are left taking the reins.
The concept that art flirts dangerously with ridicule should be no surprise to anyone who has ever drawn, sculpted, played or vocalised their creations. Art is about expression: an expression of yourself, your thoughts and your feelings through your chosen medium. Naturally, this requires a degree of risk – are you ready to risk sticks and stones for the sake of your art? No-one ever moved culture forward on by sticking to the straight and narrow and with greater risks come greater potential rewards.
Last time we caught up with the members of Prince Rama, the sisters were cooking up the perfect storm of psychedelic trance hipness for their next album, Trust Now. Taraka and Nimai Larson, who together make the Brooklyn-based cult-rock duo, promised a “more focused, cohesive, urgent, spooky” album than their past releases and described their sister-sister psychic connection as “kind of intense” and stronger than ever. Trust Now is the band’s first album since Michael Collins left the group about a year ago, but fear not—it is as hippie and as trippy as ever.