NYMPH is a seven-piece New York City collective that Northern Spy Records describes as delving into “psych, noise and jazz.” Those adjectives are all true to an extent, but what New Millennium Prayer sounds like is an improv-oriented ensemble embracing the worst stereotypes of jam bands. The opening and closing tracks of the album, “Beyond” and “New Millennium Prayer”, respectively, find the core ensemble of drums, bass, and two guitars laying down very cool funky grooves. The rhythm section locks in together but finds space to ornament while the two guitars find complementary riffs. The band is soon joined by vocalist Eri Shoji’s wordless yelps, wails and moans while saxophones occasionally skronk away in the background. In “Beyond” this works pretty well for a four-minute song, but it goes on for over 12 minutes, and after that four-minute mark, the song devolves into endless guitar noodling. The final track is a faster-paced rocker that never loses its tempo but also slides into interminable noodling from both guitars and an organ.
The album’s middle two songs are trying for entirely different, but just as predictable, reasons. “Battle Funk” finds the band working on two or three different grooves, but as the title implies, they keep destroying those grooves, over and over, in blasts of chaotic noise where everyone just pounds away on their instruments. This is the kind of track that might be a fun visual experience in concert, but on record, it’s essentially 10 minutes of concentrated aggravation. “Raag Mon” is the album’s most experimental track, featuring seven minutes of swirling, beat-free sounds that eventually coalesce into the album-closing title track but fails to develop an identity of its own. So there you have it; half of New Millennium Prayer features extended noodling, while the other half features intentionally chaotic music that could easily be mistaken for a bunch of people just fucking around on their instruments. To say this album is probably only of interest to die-hard psychedelia and jam-band fans is a vast understatement.
// Notes from the Road
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