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Goat - World Music

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Artist: Goat

Album: World Music

Label: Rocket Recordings

Review date: Oct. 29, 2012

You may have already heard the word-of-mouth surrounding Goat, but the band’s apocryphal back-story bears repeating. Hailing from northern Sweden, the members of Goat are from a village that was, in its earliest days, populated by a Voodoo-worshipping clan. The villagers lived peacefully until Christians drove them out; fleeing, the villagers laid a curse on the place. This us-versus-them scenario, funneled through an album called World Music, points the spotlight on the band’s omnivorous nature as they use whatever inspirations come to hand.

And, surprise!, this smorgasbord approach works. From prog-rock keyboards to MC5 fuzz guitar leads, disco funk to tribal percussion, and yet farther afield, it’s clear that whatever felt good was tossed into the pot. One gets the sense — true or not — that there’s not a lot of purposeful irony behind these songs, and that the band’s simply having fun. And for the most part, the same can be said of this listener: World Music is a blast.

If there’s a commonality to the songs, it’s the percussion, which goes from tribal to polyrhythmic, but lends a head-nodding busy-ness without making things too crowded. But aside from that, the songs veer from funky guitar strums and swirling organ to deep wah-fuzz psych guitar leads and even a moment of gentle acoustic folk. The opener “Diarabi” adopts an eastern-tinged psychedelic flavor a la Popol Vuh, or more recently, Grails.

From there it’s a tour through tribal chanted psych swirl, distorted incantatory stomp, disco guitar strums, Hawaiian ukulele (I think), swinging afro-beat, Sabbath pastiche, psychedelic church mass, and more. It sounds like it should be a mess, but somehow it all hangs together, and not by a thread, either. “Run To Your Mama” will probably be a favorite due to its combination of Sabbath riffs, funky rhythms, and powerful female vocals, but in fact it’s one of the less-impressive songs here — it’s too easy. The vocals make it work, and it’s thankfully short at just over two minutes, but the song’s simply too obvious. Especially preceded by the pure fun swing of “Let It Bleed” and followed by the deep, beautiful Popol Vuh-ish chamber psych of “Goatlord,” both of which make much more of their ingredients.

At just 37 minutes, World Music is wisely edited — most of the songs hover around the 3-minute mark, so they speak their piece and move on before you get tempted to start peeling apart the layers to see what they’re really made of. And if anything, that’s the question. Once the novelty wears off, are these songs still going to have the same spark as they do on the first few listens? In any case, it’s clear that this album’s going to be heard a lot for the remainder of this year, so we’ll all have the chance to find out.

By Mason Jones

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