Prince Rama | Top Ten Hits of the End of the World

Paw Tracks Records (2012)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  October 31, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars


We are used to this kind of thing with bigger stars — where the biography starts to take over and we talk more about how gaga-licious the artist is than about the music — but less so with the underground. Prince Rama don't make it easy, but their music demands that we dispense with their deep-fried, peyote-dipped creamsicle of a story as quickly as possible. Yes, the Larson sisters, Taraka and Nimai, joined by Michael Collins, are continuing their Boston-to-Brooklyn-to-Mars trajectory with more Hare Krishna-rooted trippy-ness. And yes, it's a concept album where each song channels the spirits of a different imaginary band that died during the apocalypse (cool, but a bummer). Yet, unlike the Turtles' 1968 Battle of the Bands, where each song sounds like a different band, Top Ten Hits is the cohesive work of one unified mind. The Larsons have imagined what music might sound like if they have something to say about the future. And aside from that apocalypse part, the groovy Kingdom of Rama is otherwise only mildly dystopian — specifically in terms of graphic design, unless you fancy Guatemalan bootlegs of Bananarama's Greatest Hits. It's the perfect segue into what their future sounds like: under swaths of digi-drums, roto toms, playful presets, and tons of reverb/distortion/delay, Prince Rama's voices join together into a bleating dispassionate unison much like the aforementioned godmothers (see "Banana Rama"). And much like MIA's dip into the grungiest favelas of world music, Prince Rama imagine a future where such Mayan contraband, with attendant odd modalities and ceremonial percussion, can mingle with club beats, sexy gothic atmospheres, repetitive hooks, and the occasional pop bliss. The concept is ultimately unimportant. No one who hears this album without knowing the background will feel lost. The music is what matters, and Prince Rama, with this highfalutin' silliness, have delivered big.
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