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. Until one day, they walked into a studio and conjured up the acid-fried, otherworldly romp of World Music.
As far as band biographies go, Goat’s formation tale is a doozey–one best left un-spoilt and just enjoyed for its arcane mysteriousness and hoodoo supernaturalism. Certainly, the band’s material is oozing with a heady leitmotif bound intrinsically to its back-story. World Music features Afro-beat and Afro-rock meeting the intoxicating Krautrock of Amon Düül II, Can and any number of proto-punk outfits jamming over the Omen soundtrack. It’s all lysergic shards of guitar, necromantic percussion, and entangled chants and melodies. It’s a peek into the minds of the Brothers Grimm as they astral travel from Kinshasa to Detroit, stopping off for a mushroom-fuelled trip with Hawkwind through the valleys of Wales, and a Stockholm-based avant-jazz gig along the way. It’s insane, chaotic, and wholly brilliant.
World Music is a twisted disharmony of palpable, trance-like grooves, loose jams and masses of wah-wah, reverb and tweaked-out guitar–all of which screeches, howls, clangs and crashes in a wacked-out fuzzy din. Sound good? It’s better than good; it’s a masterpiece. Squalls of psych and steel strums make up “Diarabi” and “Goatman”, the latter cut with tribal drumming and a tumbling, corpulent bass. Sinisterly picked, propulsive notes overrun the dirty, disco metal of “Run to Your Mama”. “Disco Fever” brings the seedy funk, dripping with ’70s organ and chopped up, tinny ringing chords. And the hollowed out, tinkling chimes of “Golden Dawn” are slathered in lolloping bass and flashes of distorted guitar, before dropping into a Cambodian keyboard jam, which is halted by a squealing solo.
It could have all gone so terribly wrong. World Music is soaked in a vintage ’70s vibe, and, as plenty of redundant retro and proto-this-and-that-inclined acts can attest to, simply throwing on some flares, sparking a spliff, and reenacting a few moves is definitely not the same as invoking a genuinely free-spirited mood. No such issues for Goat though. The band exudes a wanton ritual rum-guzzling eccentricity, and its songs are crammed with unconventional swerves, making for a weird and wonderful hallucinatory atmosphere throughout. Sure, you might well recognize the retrospective components here, but I guarantee you’ve never heard them arranged like this.
There’s the standing on a mountaintop, acid-bleeding grim folk of “Goatlord”, with shrieking, echoing vocals, and more of those beautiful amp-fusing picked leads. There’s the watching the Wickerman burn orgy of “Goathead”, with low-end bass rumbles, fervent percussion, warping feedback, and a gentile folk stroll to finish. “Let it Bleed” has fuzzed-out vocals and a jazzy-saxophone flourish to subvert its uplifting indie-pop riffs, and everything comes crashing together on spectacular closer “Det Som Aldrig Förändras”. Droning, psychedelic keyboards, motorik percussion and funk-laden bass are tossed together, until the hypnotic rhythms boil over into a kaleidoscopic jam–where World Music is taken to its freakiest and most aggressive point, with Goat unleashing the wickedness in abandon.
The majority of World Music‘s tracks are brief and nasty, giving the album a mean lo-fi edge. But while the album is filthy and echo-laden, it is also warm, with a hefty, thick pulse. It’s stuffed to the corners with sounds, and the balance between messy analogue ambitions and ensuring all the instruments are captured and rendered for maximum narcotic effect is superbly gauged–both the production and mix are excellent.
World Music is a masterwork of the eldritch, bizarre, and celestial, and one of the best and most unhinged psychedelic rock albums you’ll hear in 2012. The fact that this is the band’s debut sends shivers up the spine as you contemplate what Goat could possibly have in store next time round. It’s all bewitchingly unorthodox–but how could it not be, given the band’s history, invented or not? The pure dementedness and fearlessness of throwing all this together is to be celebrated, and Goat has clearly tapped in to psychedelia’s deepest, darkest reverberations. Channeling whatever ceremonial endeavors (or imbibing whatever substances) are required, Goat has come up with an exuberant album filled to the brim with potent mysticism; World Music is fittingly possessed by a sprit of pure adventurousness.