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In a culture obsessed with content, saturation, and continual exposure, it’s rare to find artists who prefer to lurk outside of the public eye. Thomas Pynchon is perhaps the most notable contemporary recluse—a virtually faceless figure who occasionally creeps out of hiding to offer up an elaborate novel steeped in history and warped by imagination—but for crate diggers and guitar mystics, Sweden’s enigmatic GOAT may qualify as the greatest modern pop-culture mystery. Who are these masked musicians? Are they truly members of the Arctic community of Korpilombolo? Are their songs part of their isolated communal heritage? Their third studio album, Requiem, offers more questions than answers, but much like any of Pynchon’s knotty yarns, the reward is not in the untangling but in the journey through the labyrinth.
Western exports may have dominated the consciousness of international rock fans for the entirety of the 20th century, but our increasing global awareness has unearthed a treasure trove of transcendental grooves and spellbinding riffage from exotic and remote corners of the planet. GOAT’s previous albums World Music and Commune were perfect testaments to this heightened awareness, with Silk Road psychedelia, desert blues, and Third World pop all serving as governing forces within the band’s sound. But GOAT’s strange amalgam isn’t some cheap game of cultural appropriation—it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact origins of the elusive group’s sound. The fact that they pledge allegiance to a spot on the periphery of our maps bolsters the nomadic quality of their sonic explorations. With Requiem, GOAT continue to rock and writhe to a beat beholden to no nation, no state.
GOAT’s only outright declaration for Requiem is that it is their “folk” album, and the album is focused more on their subdued bucolic ritualism than psilocybin freakouts. But GOAT hasn’t completely foregone their fiery charms—tracks like “All-Seeing Eye” and “Goatfuzz” conjure the sultry heathen pulsations that ensnared us on their previous albums.
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of Requiem comes with the closing track “Ubuntu”. The song is little more than a melodic delay-driven electric piano line, until we hear the refrain from “Diarabi”—the first song on their first album—sneak into the mix. It creates a kind of musical ouroboros—an infinite cycle of reflection and rejuvenation, death and rebirth. Much like fellow recluse Pynchon, rather than offering explanations for their strange trajectories, GOAT create a world where the line between truth and fiction is so obscured that all you can do is bask in their cryptic genius.
Barry says: Goat return with their most confident and resplendent outing yet. Grooving, psychedelic strings and traditional other-worldly instrumentation. Careering towards surf-rock splendour in parts (Trouble In The Streets) and full-on freak-out jam sessions. This is a varied and perfectly measured addition to the magnificent oeuvre of these talented musicians.
Mine says: Psychedelic world music collective Goat are a favourite among Piccadilly staff and customers alike so it doesn't come as a surprise that their new album has made it into our end of year chart. What might come as a surprise is to hear the word accessible in connection with the band but Goat's third long player 'Requiem' is certainly their lightest and most approachable to date. The afro beats that dominated 'World Music' and the acid rock elements featured on 'Commune' make way for 60s inspired, pan flute accompanied catchy folk songs. Unlike its predecessors, 'Requiem' sounds unhurried and cheerful and has a laid-back feel to it. It is a complex but dynamic outing that sees the band heading into a new direction without losing their unique sound of otherworldly tribal grooves and voodoo sing-alongs. As Goat themselves say, "all music is world music and all other genres are old fashioned".
01 Djôrôlen / Union Of Sun And Moon
02 I Sing In Silence
03 Temple Rhythms
05 Trouble In The Streets
06 Psychedelic Lover
08 Try My Robe
09 It's Not Me
10 All-seeing Eye –