When Goat first emerged caterwauling from the depths of Scandinavia half a decade ago, they were a shock to the system. Their debut album, ‘World Music’, was a resplendent globe-trotting trip of a listen, their live shows a manic ritual worship at the feet of their twin voodoo priestesses, and nowhere else was there anything quite like it.
In the years that followed, psychedelic music experienced its latest revival, and in Goat’s wake came reams of artists with a similar mix of heady riffs and fusion grooves, their previously unfamiliar aesthetic, if not outright copied, clearly bearing its influence on those that followed. By the time the band’s sophomore LP ‘Commune’ was released two years ago, though still armed with the same hectic brilliance as on their debut the mysterious Swedes’ power to shock and awe was clearly fading.
Goat’s second album succeeded on the strength of its songs alone, but now, on its follow-up, there’s a sense they can’t get away with the same tricks three times in a row. How refreshing, then, that in response to what was a creeping sense of predictability, that on ‘Requiem’ the band have taken a total left turn. Where once they were detached and unreachably alien in tone, now Goat have reached out their arms on a warm, bright, even uplifting new record, laced in flutes and mantras of goodwill.
The album’s opener ‘Djôrôlen/Union of Sun and Moon’ reveals much about Goat’s new direction, an initial two minutes of drifting, distant, birdsong-backed chants giving way not, as might be expected, to the band’s now-traditional blast of tight, ferocious fuzz, but to a wonky riff of joyous woodwind. Lead single ‘I Sing In Silence’ follows, continuing the new aesthetic to an inviting mid-tempo groove atop which the two frontwomen sing of sisterhood, brotherhood, motherhood and love.
These lyrical themes of a familial sense of communion pervade throughout the record, nowhere more so than ‘Try My Robe’, where we’re offered to ‘come sit down by my side’, ‘share my bread’ and ‘taste my food’, while the sunny riffs and lyrics of ‘Trouble In The Streets’, meanwhile, could nestle in well on ‘Graceland’. This injection of unabashed positivity is made crystal on the spoken word postscript of Ubuntu, an exploration of the southern African philosophy that preaches ‘the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity’.
It’s the polar opposite to the combative chants of ‘Run To Your Mama’ and ‘Let It Bleed’ on ‘World Music’, and its fortunate that Goat’s new-found hippie bent is tempered with the same hypnotic brilliance that made those early explosions so lasting. Many of the tracks exceed seven minutes in length, reclining into steady, mounting grooves, lush with new textures and a trance-like pulse.
In short, though this is a completely new face to Goat, a deeper, richer exploration of their abilities, it’s not a complete departure. ‘Goatfuzz’, for example, recalls their former penchant for heady, unruly riffs, while an unexpected coda in the form of the satanic opening riff of ‘Diaribi’, from their debut, feels like an explicit tie between past and present.
Essentially, everything there is to know about the new Goat album is apparent in its cover. The band stand still adorned in their traditional shamanic masks and robes, still mysterious and otherworldly, but this time they aren’t entirely disconnected from us. Surrounded by children in a psychotropic family portrait, the band seem welcoming — still wonderfully weird as hell — but welcoming.
Words: Patrick Clarke
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