8 Sep 2014

Goat / Commune (album review)

With people like Alex Turner, Kasabian and the guy from the Courteeners being some of the most talked about artists on the planet, it would be really easy to believe that music's larger than life characters have, well, lost any remaining character. But hailing from the depths of rural Scandanavia, Goat completely flip that on it's head. The mask-bearing psych merchants took critics by storm with their amazing debut, World Music in 2012, and they're back for more this year, with LP #2, Commune.


Goat are from a village shrouded in a history of voodooism and witchlore, and one look at the song titles on Commune confirm their status as magical goat mystics sent from afar. Hell, one look at the name Commune summons enough black magic imagery to get the Amon Duul II-style connotations racing. Titles like The Light Within and The Gathering of Ancient Tribes give a knowing wink to Goat's mythical reputation, and Goatchild makes you think instantly of their debut single Goatman. And Goatslaves too, that's a pretty damn cool song title, and before you put the record on you know it's gonna be pretty damn shamanic. 

It's the krautrock kings, Amon Duul II that Goat sound most similar. Throughout the scurrying Goatslaves and the opener Talk To God, the singer's (whose name is not known to us mere mortals) caterwauling vocals are so similar to the yelps of Amon Duul II's Renate Knaup. But whilst equally mystic as ADII, Commune is a much lighter, more positive affair than anything the evil sounding Germans put out. But in a really great way, the shamanic ritual of listening to Goat is just divine, you could make a sacrifice of your pet cat to the ever-frantic rhythmic swirl of Bondye, and it'd be an enjoyable experience. 

Lead single Hide From The Sun has been a brilliant 6music mainstay since it's release, and it couldn't be more deserving. Every time it comes on, you struggle to remember what it is for a second; "Is it King Crimson? Is it Syd's Floyd?" before you realise it's Goat. The vintage fuzz of it sounds as if it's been with you for all eternity and it's hard to pin just how a band as chaotic as Goat have released something so elegant and so classic. It sounds just perfect, and halfway through it goes into fuzz-overdrive as the whole song picks up to create a big wall of sound, as if the head Goatman just tilted his Guitar Hero guitar up with great furore. 

The albums bookends, Gathering of Ancient Tribes and Talk to God are the two most perfect ways to conclude and begin an album. The banging of a echoing gong that kicks Commune off during Talk To God closes The Gathering... as well, and the album just sounds amazing on a loop. I should know, I listened to it three times in full in a row earlier. Talk To God brings together an underwater sounding tribal drum, fused with lots of repetition to kick the album off in fine fashion, whilst The Gathering... is a psyched out jam that just ascends and ascends. 

Commune is a forty minute session of psyched-out sorcery, with no weak parts. It echoes early psychedelia, as well as a bit of tribal music in the percussion. Whilst Commune is almost like looking into a window to the past, Goat are one of the most exciting bands in the whole wide world, and their second album is just as exciting as their masks and their live shows. 

Released: 23rd September in the UK on Rocket Recordings (But Sub-Pop in the USA)
Producer: Al Lover
Need to hear: Goatchild, Hide From The Sun, The Gathering of Ancient Tribes

(written by calum cashin)