An infinity of artists must have been branded multifaceted since this whole online writing thing began, but few can surely have as much of a claim to this nature of the numerous (and in this case quite ambiguous) faces as sibling duo Prince Rama. When I recently interviewed Angus Andrew of Liars, I thought it meet to highlight the myriad ways in which I regarded the band as not one, but some of my favourites. Andrew et al. have been pushing the envelope back and forth across their discog, yet to compile a lone full-length that flitters between Egyptian disco (“Those Who Live For Love Will Live Forever”) and sultry throwback chanson française (“Welcome To The Now Age”), as Rama here do, is a thoroughly progressive move in my mind. That said record serves as a bat-shite fruitcake reconceptualising of the compilation album (Top 10 Hits Of The End Of The World is a radical imagining of a psych-stained chart to end all charts at the time of that supposedly impending apocalypse) only furthers its wild appeal.
This time of asking, this comprehensive, though simplistic band composition assumes a form as fluid as a liquefied shapeshifter as for each of its ten tracks, Taraka and Nimai adopt a spangly, newfangled moniker for one moment, and one moment only. These fluctuate between the modish (Motel Memory), the démodé (Nu Fighters), and the irrevocably mad (I.M.M.O.R.T.A.L.I.F.E.) though this is corybantic insanity to only enhance the artistry within. Since when did a touch of derangement do anything detrimental to the craft of any given artist? Certainly, sisters Larson have, across their previous half-dozen releases, exhibited themselves as omnicompetent, though somewhat unhinged musical visionaries, and indeed once again there are more zany semblances of side to Top 10 Hits Of The End Of The World than there are to most diamonds. Which is most fitting, given that this one’s a gem best cherished.
Lamentably, this posthumous commemoration of fictitious spectres seems unlikely to go topping any charts this, or indeed the other side of the end of everything, but in the ears of the beholder it resounds with the wide sonic variation of veritable eras.
Prince Rama do, beyond the numerous noms de plume, coincidentally happen to trade in spanking electro-pop. It’s a genre that may, these days, often be deemed somewhat vapid in both its musical and lyrical constituents – a bastardised take on the juxtaposition made eternal by Nile Rodgers, whereby exultant disco propensities be paired up with subtly melancholy verses, bridges, and choruses. No such stuff here, for Top 10 Hits Of The End Of The World runs like a celebratory blowout which fizzes with the unrestrained euphoria of they that’d favour having Prince’s When Doves Cry over Procul Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale blared out at their funeral – the alas, inevitable end to every individual. For the minute though, ‘Rama is buzzing with vivacity. There’s life in this one yet: Nu Fighters’ “No Way Back” is giddy, sherbet-flecked trash-pop; The Metaphysixxx’ “Exercise Ecstasy” is as though Peaking Lights spazzing out on amphetamines and the churning 4-beat gurn of much of the early ’90s; Rage Peace’s “So Destroyed” a woozy space-out turn, the sisters hooting “Hey ya!” in an almost spiritual unison. So far, so faith-restoringly eccentric.
From time to time this may wane: Taohaus is one of the less propitious guises they come to assume, as “Receive” is as though an amorphous Paw Tracks take on the primordial thumping of Foot Village. “Blade of Austerity”, the lone arm in the Guns of Dubai arsenal, is similarly nebulous – a superfluous scintilla formed of one glinting synth line and little else. But every Top 10 has its burdensome duds, and these instances would surely weigh in down around the lower end. Were we to rank according to quality the “Those Who Live For Love Will Live Forever” glitz from I.M.M.O.R.T.A.L.I.F.E. would most likely grab the top spot. For as that previously mildly derided electro-pop style goes, it’s right up there at the lofty acme of invention. Or reinvention. Or whatever else Top 10 Hits Of The End Of The World may be hailed as. And that despite its platitudinous, if premonitory moans of “the end is near.”
Nonetheless, such criticism is often easier to dismiss on occasions of the artist being dissociated from the art by way of concept. Though that is categorically not the case with these Top 10 Hits Of The End Of The World, or so one senses. For it feels as though the telepathic pairing that is Prince Rama may have felt absolutely compelled to channel these vague messages of solidarity in eternity before it’s too late. And the message I’d feel equally compelled to relay is that you make sure you heed their lunatic calls prior to the slated transformative occurrences of December 21st.
Released: November 5th, 2012 [Paw Tracks]