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Shadow Temple

Prince Rama

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Album Review

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. Driven by loads (and loads) of drums and percussion instruments, whacked-out synths, and the occasional snaky electric guitar, these eight tracks carry within them the ability to shift brain waves en masse and transport the listener somewhere else. There are five original numbers here, as well as readings of three sacred mantras from the Indian Hindu tradition (Prince Rama's members grew up on a large Hare Krishna farm in Florida, though they all claim they no longer follow the faith). Whether it's the opener, "Om Mani Padme Hum," its proceeding track, "Om Namo Shivaya," or the closer, "Raghupati," the unhinged, high-pitched, operatic, and low, throat-sung vocals, feel like they are invoking wrathful deities from outside the time-space continuum. This music was created for the purpose of trying to remove listeners from the confines of their bodies. (Think early Gang Gang Dance multiplied by ten.) The chants are followed to the letter lyrically, but musically, Prince Rama create their own sonic spaces in which to execute them. While the chants are compelling, it's the original material that excites. Check the interwoven synth and drum lines in "Lightening Fossil" (sic), that make up the entire mid-section of the track as cascading vocals, in classically structured harmony, are stacked one upon one another to compete with the low, rolling drums and cosmic synth washes. The nasty, crashing electric guitar riffs that open "Thunderdrums" actually assist in making the track sound like its name; syncopated and repetitive drumming all take their places inside the flowing architecture of the track — interrupted occasionally by a digital delay. The coolest thing about this mess of orgiastic sound is that it's totally possible to envision it being played live; it feels present, inside your skin, under your muscles, and inside your veins. Shadow Temple is physical music that evokes the spirit world; it rocks, but it soars too; creating a soundtrack for some kind of apocalypse.

Biography

Formed: 2007 in New York, NY [Brooklyn]

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock trio Prince Rama (formerly known as Prince Rama of Ayodhya) formed in 2007 around the talents of Michael Collins and sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson. The trio members, who were raised in a Hare Krishna-centric Florida community, met in high school and began their musical journey as a straight-up punk-pop outfit, but a year in a Boston art school, as well as a steady diet of Amon Düül, Animal Collective, and Gang Gang Dance records, helped them make the transition from...
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Shadow Temple, Prince Rama
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