The Swedish pan-globalist, mask-wearing psych-rock troupe entrance Brighton.
SWEDISH PSYCHEDELIC CRAZIES TURN ON A SOUTH COAST PRIMITIVIST DANCE RITUAL.
GOAT CORN EXCHANGE, BRIGHTON MONDAY, 17 OCTOBER, 2016
As the “killer clown” craze has lately proved, there’s something deeply unsettling about someone wearing a mask. So it feels when Q, with some trepidation, sits down backstage with one of Swedish pan-globalist psych-rock troupe, Goat. The man of medium-build, who may be one of their two guitarists, but who refuses to be identified, enters the vacant dressing room sporting a white showroom-dummy-style facial cover, white sun hat and white robe. This would be the band’s first ever face-toface interview, if we could actually see that part of his anatomy. Like the 1970s wrestler Kendo Nagasaki, who claimed to gain his strength from fighting masked, Goat’s mystique has served them well. Never revealing themselves onstage, nor listing credits (even made-up ones) on their three albums since 2013, their star has risen quickly. But there have been other mitigating circumstances: such as, their high-voltage cocktail of psychedelia, doom-metal, Afrobeat and assorted otherworldly flavours adding up to, arguably, the most original sound in modern rock. Festival appearances, meanwhile, have seen vast crowds surrender to their trance-y rituals with paganistic abandon. In person, though, this whole incognito vibe is a touch creepy. Eye contact is minimal behind shadowy peepholes. Asked about the band’s heritage, our man of
“I DON’T REMEMBER OUR SONG TITLES… HALF OF THEM ARE CALLED ‘GOAT-SOMETHING’.”
mystery gamely upholds the party line that Goat hail from a small community called Korpilombolo in northern Sweden, “up near the Arctic Circle, where all you see is darkness for one half of the year, and bright light for the other.” He finds it difficult to conceal his amusement at the confusion they’re causing: one UK review, he chuckles, misquoted the lyrics to Try My Robe, from this year’s epic Requiem doubleLP, as “eat my clothes, they taste good.” “Although,” he adds, “to be honest, even I don’t remember our songs’ titles. It gets confusing, because half of them are called Goat-something.” Come 9pm at the Corn Exchange, our man plugs in to the right. To the left: another, near-identically clad guitarist – but taller, with shoulder-length tresses – and a bassist with red flowers in his hair. At the back, a muscular drummer; front right, a percussionist with a single, thumpingly audible bongo. Out front: the girls, two of them, in matching jazzy black-and-white ceremonial gowns and feathered head-dresses, keening in unison over a pummelling beat and ’ 60s- psych guitar. “Children of the night, sing me your words,” they darkly implore, “at the end of my time, sing me your words.” Not for nothing have Goat been pegged as the ABBA of Nordic Afro-doom-psych, and the irresistible spell these two cryptic singers cast only deepens as each whips out a children’s recorder to tootle the folksy melody to Union Of Sun And Moon. In the flesh, two key factors assault the audience’s senses, as they’re goaded into body movement by the women’s excitable, unchoreographed gyrations: melody (Goat have this facility up the wazoo) and groove, which soon swings into effect on Try My Robe’s Westernised Tinariwen shuffle, shifts up a gear with Goatfuzz’s Neanderthal neo-pysch pedal abuse and hits full throttle as a tingling highlife guitar figure takes Trouble In The Streets deep into Afro-funk territory. For some minutes, the five-man combo lock into an hypnotic percussive cycle – Rio Carnival at full pelt – eliciting ecstatic whoops from the crowd, as our interviewee fella scratches away at his axe like Nile Rodgers, while Mr Longhair blasts out screaming wah-wah noise à la Ron Asheton from The Stooges – an unprecedented combination. There’s the point: all these influences have been floating around for 50 years or longer, but rarely have they been mix-and-matched so audaciously. And so Goat roller-coaster on through blissful meditations of sibling togetherness (I Sing In Silence), big beat-style eruptions of social defiance (Goatslaves, complete with Chemical Brothers-esque bassline) and another trance-out midway through Run To Your Mama. By climactic Talk To God, much of the perspiring schoolnight throng appears to be living out that track title quite literally. So, what are Goat? Globetrotting psychedelic storm-troopers in pursuit of a third-eye mystical truth? Or an acutely-drilled bunch in fancy dress? Frankly, either will suffice. Prehistoric and futuristic in equal measure, these anonymous Swedes transcend postmillennial obsessions with celebrity, reminding us that we thrill-seekers are mere descendants of “primitive man” gathered round a campfire shakin’ the night away in selfless communion. Now with the pick of three albums’ worth of material at their disposal, and two striking figures brandishing ceremonial branches for an encore, they really are the greatest show on earth.
Goat: “the ABBA of Nordic Afro-doompsych”, no less. Working that “creepy incognito vibe” to full effect. Herd mentality: Goat salute Brighton’s “children of the night.”