I couldn’t be happier that Sweden’s GOAT got to be such a big deal so quickly, as I just absolutely LOVED them from the word “go.” Their union of acid-fried psych guitars, surreal Krautrock dreaminess, Afrobeat’s funk rhythms, and the otherworldly unison-chanted vocals of the band’s two female singers goes beyond just organic—this music is practically elemental.
Their debut, titled World Music, and packaged in a stunning die-cut cover, was by a long shot one of the best (and best-reviewed) albums of 2012, a fantastic year for new releases, so their triumph wasn’t merely by default. The LP yielded the heavy single “Goatman,” the catchy as all hell “Run to Your Mama,” which was the subject/object of two amazing remix records, and the big mindscramble of “Goathead,” an acid-prog blowout which seemed to endeavor to strand their fellow heavy-psych Swedes Dungen in Fela Kuti’s compound. Right before the big raid.
Their live shows, too, attracted near-unanimous acclaim. The band takes the stage in identity-obscuring costumes that draw inspiration from the tribal garb of indigenous peoples all across the globe, with specific references to Islam (their bassist has appeared wearing a niqab), Africa, and the pre-Columbian Americas. When combined in concert, the colorful apparel, the dancing of the singers, and the volume and vehemence of the music are all quite intense. This photo gallery represents the band’s look well on a larger stage, but in a small venue, the show is completely immersive. I saw them this summer—and some of you will laugh at this, but whatever, up yours—at a bowling alley in Cleveland, with a low stage that afforded the band incredibly direct engagement with the audience. The concertgoer who shot this phone video had to be just a few feet to my right and a bit behind me:
Late last month, GOAT released World Music‘s follow up, Commune. While World Music wanted to dance, chant, and fuck in the primordial ooze from which all life emerged, Commune aims to touch the transcendent. (The obvious question: is “commune” a noun or a verb here? An imperative?) While the winning formula is unchanged—Afropop beats, check; fuzz-blitz guitar solos you want to bring along with you when you die, check; ESL hippie lyrics rendered in soaring, unison wail, check—this record’s sounds are leavened with a cathedral’s worth of reverb, and its grooves are as often meditative as booty-shaking. But the trancey atmospherics here are genuinely absorbing, and while it’s not as immediately gripping as the debut, Commune could prove itself as a more accessible entryway for GOAT initiates. It opens with slow-building chimes, like Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” and AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” which build into the plaintive and distant “Talk to God.” Subtle, right? See also “The Light Within,” “To Travel the Path Unknown”—there’s plainly a mystic’s agenda at work here. The band are at their robust best on “Goatslaves,” album closer “Gathering of Ancient Tribes,” (cough cough G.O.A.T.) and the lovely, raga-drenched single “Hide From the Sun.” We’re privileged at DM to be debuting that song’s video for you today.