29 Sept 2014

Album Review: Goat "Commune"

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Goat's new opus, highly anticipated following the critical acclaim and success of their debut album "World Music" and follow up live recording "Live Ballroom Ritual", is finally released to an expectant and now substantial audience. When they emerged a few years back, Goat’s merging of the theatrical (such as their masked shenanigans in their live shows and promo shots) with a mixture of psych trance rock and afro and world beat rhythms was completely unexpected and a breath (or rush) of much needed creativity and fresh air. This only adds pressure for new long player "Commune" to live up to the heady heights of previous outings. I am delighted to confirm that it does so and much, much more besides. Read on gentle listener and enter the magical, strange and transcendent world of Goat.

The hesitant and lonely rhythm of "Talk to God" opens the album; spiraling, building and layering until, almost unwittingly you find yourself in a whirlwind of cascading drums and fizzing, buzzing guitar. Both hypnotic and transcendent, it is spellbinding. Coming at the listener sideways, "Words" has an enormous electronic reverberating wave of percussion which sets the pace for the subsequent chanted vocals. Almost desert rock in its widescreen approach, this is Jimi Hendrix jamming with Aphex Twin meets Sly and The Family Stone. It’s that good. By contrast "The Light Within" is a classic vintage sounding piece of wah-wah inflected seventies style wig out space rock. Yet there is something more spacious in Goat's sound this time around, more delicate perhaps, of intricacy between the clamour of screaming guitar and urgent percussion. "To Travel The Path Unknown" begins with an echoed, quasi-mystical invocation to 'the one true force in the universe' and, with tongue planted firmly in its cheek, the song then sets off on a Morricone bent complete with whip cracking bells and twanged, resonating guitar. These merge with lonesome flute trills to provide the soundtrack to some as yet unwritten Swedish western; it's that strange and yet that invigorating. Indeed, Goat are truly exciting as a band; their seemingly unhinged jams are actually tightly controlled and dynamic, building into crafted explosions of harmony and stomach lurching launches into careful, deeply memorable guitar lines and riffs. A prime example of this, "Goatchild" is a call and response male and female vocal psychedelic masterpiece that is destined to be a live showpiece. Indeed, as great as Goat are on record, you get the sense that these songs will crackle and burn live when teamed with the masks and elaborate costumed performance that has become their trademark. "Goatslaves" enters with a "Warrior on The Edge Of Time" style spoken intro before a house quaking Kasabian bass line takes us into another full on Goat guitar monster; the band perhaps have a limited amount of components in their bag of tricks but they seemingly have endless and myriad ways to fit these together. And when music is this exhilarating, you don't want any let up or wild forays into un-Goat like territory. It would be distracting and ultimately, a come down. "Hide From The Sun" sounds vintage, I suspect that Goat have invested in some old tube stack amps for the making of this album and it fits perfectly with their timeless modus operandi of mostly instrumental psyche guitar freakouts. Wisps of echoed and chanted vocals ride the waves of dark, urgent fuzz and surf guitar, a hint of sitar adding the element of mystery and otherworldliness. An album standout amongst a collection of treasures, this is a heart racing and beautifully exultant song, at once uplifting and yet ominous and strange. "Bondeye" is a mid-paced melodic exercise in restraint, the drums and guitars holding the tension and harmonies whilst always threatening to truly take off into the stratosphere. In some bizarre way Goat are almost a Shadows for the millennial age; highly catchy and melodic guitar lines form the basis of their music and they are soundtrack-like in their atmospheres and motifs. However Hank Marvin would need to have ingested several tonnes of psychedelics and be wearing a deer mask to even come near to achieving what this band does. "Gathering of Ancient Tribes" is an epic closer (although Goat are always epic, make no mistake); a collision of sixties style drum fills and vocal chants that recall some of Jane's Addictions most exhilarating moments merge with constant and solid guitar genius. Feedback howls build to eventually lead into the promised full-on screaming overload of Goat with their amps turned up to, ahem, eleven. A shimmering wave of vocal dissonance hovers over the wig-out until it all runs to a close, feedback drone echoing long past the end of the song. It is both breathtaking and bewildering; you are left thinking 'what have I just heard'? Just perfect.

I cannot recommend this highly enough. When they first appeared Goat seemingly came from nowhere; their psychedelic monoliths fully formed. And they show no sign of leaving or of let up in their singular mission. They are a truly exciting band, not cerebral but purely physical. You feel this music in your heart, lungs and stomach. Come, commune with Goat. You will not be disappointed that you did.

"Commune" is available here on vinyl, vinyl with bonus 7", and CD.

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