Goat: ‘Commune’ Album Review

Courtesy of consequenceofsound.net
Courtesy of consequenceofsound.net

There must be something in the water in northern Europe, because there seems to be some ethereal uniqueness to artists hailing from Scandinavia. Specifically in regard to their mastery over wilderness inspired folk music. Goat (out of Korpilombolo, Sweden) elaborates on this phenomenon in their sophomore album Commune, a 9-track meandering compilation of esoteric rock. Commune draws from a wide range of influences from face-melting acid blues, to lucid and jammed out worldly folk compositions. Having only recently discovered this Swedish rock group, I find my thoughts perpetual returning to . . . well, Goat.

Everything from their name to their bizarre interviews and mask dawning stage antics seems to provoke intrigue. A quick browse of the Goat website elaborates at what I’m getting at here. I highly recommend checking out some videos from their live shows for reference to their peculiar tribal antics. As far as I can tell, they fall somewhere between a cult of tambourine wielding gypsies and alt-rock geniuses. Another odd element of Goat is their intentional limiting of their own press including their personal identities. While certainly not the first band to employ this sort of masks-and-mystery technique, Goat seems to pull it of to endearing effect while perpetuating their air of cultly-mysticism.

Commune starts off with “Talk to God,” a drone driven atmospheric jam, showcasing Goat’s female vocals woven into the mesmerizing Afrobeat styled guitar work. Our female lead on Commune employs powerful vocals that cut through songs with the same level of intensity as the overdriven guitar. The reverb-cloaked voice of our Goat-heroine often culminates into trill tribal shriek territory, but in a way that isn’t necessarily abrasive or annoying. Heavy reverb is a common thread throughout Commune both in the vocals and guitar work, making it feel as though it was recorded off somewhere in Goat’s personal gypsy cave. Something I suppose is entirely possible based on what we know about them.

“We’re here on Earth / only a few winters / then we go the spirit world / the spirit world is more real than most of us believe / the spirit world is everything.” A little out there? Certainly. That being said, the follow up riff to this bizarre voice over on the track “Goatslaves” (awesome name) is a powerhouse blend of psychedelic jungle-folk and jangly lo-fi rock, the kind of bizarre mix that almost makes you want to believe the Goat-cult gibberish that was just mumbled in your earphones. The vocals here are smoky and hypnotic, belted out in between drum-circle styled rhythms. More dissonant acid rock guitar solos come together to make this one of the stronger tunes on Commune.

“Hide from the Sun” is another personal favorite, with droning sitar styled guitar effects and a loose world-beat vibe. At the halfway mark we get a markedly glorious activation of the overdrive pedal from the Goat guitarist, followed by number of measures of progressive done-fuzz bliss before dropping back in the orient flavored body.

“To Travel the Path Unknown” takes off in a different direction than the rest. Save for a short voice clip in the beginning, it is purely instrumental. When drawing the connection between Goat and their seemingly esoteric connection to wilderness, this is the kind of track that comes to mind. Although it is relatively short and without lyrics, the melody is arcane and haunting. It conjures up images of some occult commune of gypsies huddled around a campfire, in a kind of estranged Swedish reenactment of Easy Rider.

Although a little on the short side, Commune is a strong second album from our Swedish weirdo friends. I look forward to seeing more from Goat in the future, and certainly would not pass up the chance to see a live show. From the looks of it, the full ‘Goat experience’ is best represented through their wild jungle party performances. In the meantime, I will continue listening to Commune on repeat and let Goat slowly brainwash me into following their self crafted cult-tribe until the day I can see them live.