Release Date: Aug 20, 2012
Record label: Rocket Records
Well now this is a treat. One of 2012's biggest underground rock albums – this year's Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, perhaps? – is the work of a deliberately enigmatic commune/collective who have supposedly built themselves some kind of snowbound psychedelic Shangri-La in a tiny village in Sweden's far north. Korpilombolo – so we are to believe – has a mysterious, long-established tradition of voodoo worship, and local priests have been serenading the townsfolk with various strains of far-out, pan-global incantations for generations; Goat are merely the current vessel for this time-honoured mystical practice, don't you know.
As the series of interviews they've given in recent months suggests, the Swedish band Goat is hilarious: In September, before their performance at Britain's Supersonic, the Quietus published its second talk with the ever-vague group. When writer Joe Clay asked who might headline the festival of that unnamed member's dreams, they answered, "If Holger Czukay and Geezer Butler had a son, it would be him. Just him playing bass for a couple of days." The Goathead described the band's live performances as "the harvesting of souls," and its lifestyle as "invocations, prayers, and total rejoice!" Beneath that jester veneer, though, there's a much more serious idealism at work here.
Once upon a time, many moons ago, in the tiny Swedish hamlet of Korpolombolo, a voodoo witch doctor came to town. Falling under his spell, some of the villagers embraced his mystical teachings…before he was put to death by a Christian horde, cursing the town in his last breath. Years passed, and through them all an enigmatic band named Goat, with members changing from generation to generation, would gather to practice those secretive voodoo rites.
Rocket Recordings must be a happy label right now. For 14 years it's, have been trawling the neglected underbelly of psychedelic rock in all its branches, taking on the role of a street pulpit-standing prophet, dragging anyone who come near by the shirt lapels, banging them up against a wall so the cement dust beds in their hair and imploring them to listen to the latest Gnod or Ufomammut record - even when trends and fads and whimsy has meant many have looked the other way instead. Now, though, you sense there’s a sea change; look and listen to those who appeared at this year’s Supernormal festival and who are playing Liverpool’s forthcoming Psych Fest and the evidence is that a new breed of explorers of the outer paradigm are coming forth and, more excitingly, finding an audiences for their wares.
Surrender your mind, body and soul to the Goat… Alex Deller 2012 Close your eyes while World Music spins and it’s easy enough to piece together a scene for yourself. Think ritual drumming; the soft, rhythmic thump of unclad feet; ancient rites chanted in an unfamiliar tongue and rapt faces lit by the flicker of ceremonial fires while condensation drips lazily from jade-green palm fronds. Where, now, do you think you might find yourself? Haiti? New Orleans? Saint Sebastian? Matool? Nope, instead all this voodoo-inspired wonder hails from decidedly un-tropical Sweden, courtesy of mischievous newcomers Goat.
Goat comes with a dense, potentially dressed-up mythology. Originating in the remote Swedish city of Korpilombolo, the group claims to have a decades-long history of collaboration, with new members humbly shifting in and out as the years go by. World Music, then, should be taken as a document of immense epochal significance. Deliriously enigmatic yet happily groovy, anonymity begets zapped guitar freak-outs, rumbling hand-powered percussion, sizzling funk, and rock-hard American blues.
'World music' is a loaded term. Taken a certain way (late 80s Womad, say), it evokes dainty divisionism – 'world' encompassing pretty much anything that may fall outside the established rock & roll continuum. On the other hand it means music. Listening to Goat's debut LP ensures the title makes absolute sense: primal, pulsating sound that uncorks the elemental to miraculous effect.