GOAT are the most elusive band currently making music right now. The masked, anonymous troupe claim to be from a Swedish village named Korpilombolo which homes a mere 529 inhabitants and they allege their music has been handed down through the voodoo steeped lineage of the communities elders and witch doctors. Concealment and disguise is nothing new in music: the public scarcely knows a shred about Zomby or Burial, the avant-garde collective The Residents have raised questions with their surrealistic take on band presentation since their inception and although we know the reasons behind MF DOOM’s metal mask, we’ve never seen him part with it since undertaking his villainous persona. Despite this, GOAT’s music, costume and ritualistic concerts live up to their supposed mythology, offering a sincere take on the tales of their origins whether it is in fact true or ingenious fiction.
On their third album ‘Requiem’, GOAT have successfully explored the past to reinvigorate themselves. They continue to revel in kaleidoscopic psychedelia, ritualistic funk and exotic percussion, yet crucially allow for a greater expansion of their musical persona; ‘Requiem’ features lengthy jams, hypnotic grooves and varied instrumentation which amounts to a newfound folkier sound. The chanted vocals and afrobeat rhythms are still ever-present, however they have admirably built upon the Can meets Fela Kuti template of their previous albums ‘World Music’ and ‘Commune’ by utilising folk and acoustic instrumentation in addition to their emblematic heavy psych riffing.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/285011380″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
‘Requiem’ features an abundance of dazzling moments; ‘Goatfuzz’ celebrates GOAT’s customary use of distorted guitar riffs with a new addition of a touch of ‘Maggot Brain’ influenced funk whilst ‘Temple Rhythms’ dances delightfully with bonfire party rhythms. ‘Psychedelic Lover’ is suggestive of psych-rock luminaries The Doors with its countercultural referencing title and free-floating Robby Krieger-esque guitar licks and similarly, the hypnotic sounds are showcased in ‘It’s Not Me’ in the form of mesmerising xylophones. ‘Alarms’ would fit perfectly in a Spaghetti Western film soundtrack with its snake rattles, jangling acoustic guitars and an Ennio Morricone mimicking guitar solo and furthermore, it’s impossible not to mention the genius blending of mandolin strumming with handclaps in ‘Try My Robe’ and the wild, clattering percussion in ‘Trouble In The Sheets’. The instrumental track ‘Goatband’ grooves with withdrawn horns and krautrock-like simplicity, providing a much needed halftime break from the ritualistic chants that appear throughout.
The sounds of the ancestral past are investigated in the opening and closing tracks ‘Djôrôlen / Union of Sun and Moon’ and ‘Ubuntu’, allowing for a full circle and immersive listening experience. The former sees birdsong field recordings and distant chants followed by pan pipes whilst the latter hears prose from African parables spoken over twinkly organs with a hallucinatory flashback to the first track of their debut record ‘Dairabi’.
By embracing resonances of the past and present, GOAT have crafted a sprawling piece of eclectic and brilliant psych-rock, full to the brim with interesting instrumentation and just enough variety to justify its length. Although there are some tough contenders for the psychedelic highlight of 2016 (Deakin’s ‘Sleep Cycle’, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s ‘Nonagon Infinity’ and Thee Oh Sees ‘A Weird Exits’ all spring to mind), ‘Requiem’ is certainly up there due to the sheer enjoyment that comes from its wholesome and unique listening experience.