Chosen One: Goat
Interview with Stonegoat, Goat.
“Music is everything—the biggest secret of humanity.”
Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
“The important thing is this: To be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”
The spoken word piece found in ‘Golden Dawn’ begins the second half of Goat’s extraordinary debut album, ‘World Music’. The song erupts into a psych garage jam with raging guitars and glorious rhythms of timeless rock ‘n’ roll. Trance-like female vocals are heard on the verse that resonates powerfully – kindred to chants from an age-old tradition. Moments later, the song evolves into divine surf 60’s instrumental music that could be taken directly from Brian Wilson’s Pet Projects or classic Joe Meek. The guitar tones adds a spectrum of colour that serves as the perfect counterpoint to the psychedelic haze. Like any of the tracks on ‘World Music’, a seamless array of musical styles and genres are fused together, producing a wholly unique and fulfilling musical experience. Welcome to ‘World Music’ and Sweden’s Goat.
As debut albums go, ‘World Music’ stands as one of the most captivating and compelling records for quite some time. Ever since the first glimpses of this special band came to light earlier last year, a momentum of feverish anticipation has continually surrounded them. Mystery and intrigue is ubiquitous with Goat. Who exactly are they? Thinking about this makes me call upon a certain song from Tom Waits. A song I think that conjures up the feelings of many who immediately wanted to know all there is to know about this deeply intriguing band. The song in question is ‘What’s He Building?’ from the ‘Mule Variations’ album. Waits’ spoken word asks “What’s he building in there? What the hell is he building in there? We have a right to know”.
Last year, having performed concerts for the first time outside of their native Sweden, their live performances rapidly reached mythical proportions. Their onstage appearance consisted of each band member wearing masks. Their individual identity irrelevant. Rather it is the collective identity that makes Goat who they are and in essence what they have become. Their genesis occurred centuries ago. As one of the band’s core members, Stonegoat has explained, the band Goat begun playing music together centuries ago. It is for this reason how the songbook of Goat transmits profound resonance and exudes an achingly beautiful timeless feel. Goat’s songs are steeped in a centuries-old tradition that very much belongs to a space and time that we have yet to arrive upon. Undeniably, the band’s “search of the transcendental state of mind” is successfully reached on ‘World Music’.
The songs on ‘World Music’ were recorded in the band’s own analog studio in Sweden. There are no edits or overdubs. The tracks are rough, raw and pure. The earth shifting rhythms are colossal. The instrumentation is immaculate. What is so impressive on the debut record is the spectrum of sounds and styles that are effortlessly combined, becoming one beautiful spectrum of sound. Psychedelia, afro beat, african, funk, soul, disco, rock, garage, blues–it’s all there. A special force and dimension runs deeply throughout; this feel of an age-old tradition that is quite something to behold. This very tradition originates from the tiny village of Korpilombolo in Northern Sweden, where the core members of Goat originate from. The collective ideas of the village and traditions and practices are embedded in ‘World Music’.
Album opener ‘Diarabi’ is alive with bustling rhythms and hypnotic guitars. A psychedelic rock jam ensues with an African tinged melody at its core. A drum solo serves as the outro before the anthemic ‘Goatman’ comes to the fore. Wah wah pedals and afro-beat percussion creates a glory of psych blues fused with Afro beat bliss. To hear is to believe! A dazzling African chant rises above the wall of sound. The spirit of Stooges, Spaceman 3 and Sun Ra are distilled in the atmosphere of sound. ‘Goathead’ is a swamp blues rock opus. A tribal worship is what I hear amidst the raging storm of guitars and drums. The outro fades and a musical interlude of delicate acoustic guitar rises and falls on the horizon. This moment captured is one of true beauty. I feel the tenderness of night and stillness of an ocean when listening to the meandering melody. The music belongs to the heart of the moon. Stunning. ‘Disco Fever’ contains irresistible funk and packed with a dance beat. “People get ready/Under the rainbow” is sung over high-octane moog synthesizer and infectious guitars. ‘Disco Fever’ is one for all the dance-floors; “people keep dancing into the early morn”.
‘Let It Bleed’ has a chill-out groove. It’s got soul and funk. The drum intro reminds me of ‘Under My Thumb’ by The Rolling Stones. The song has got it all. Towards the end, a saxophone break creates a free-jazz interlude that surprises and delivers that rock n roll feel. ‘Run To Your Mama’ is somewhere between Led Zeppelin and The Congos. ‘Goatlord’ is next and one of my favourites. Ethereal female vocals drift majestically along the soft strum of acoustic guitar and pump organ. A religious/spiritual lament that soothes all who hears it. The closing cut features the guitar melody that appears on the opening ‘Diarabi’. ‘World Music’ has come full-circle. A psych jam and pulses of electricity provides the final notes to this remarkable album.
Overwhelming responses from audiences continue as Goat perform live across Europe and the U.S. this year. Summer festival appearances in 2013 will undoubtedly leave audiences enthralled. Austin Psych Fest, Primavera Sound, Roskilde, Flow, and Iceland Airwaves are just to name a few the band have been confirmed for. World domination it seems, is just a stone’s throw away.
Interview with Stonegoat.
Congratulations on your truly amazing album ‘World Music’. It is the most unique and otherworldly sounding record I’ve heard in a long long time. There is this special force and dimension running deep throughout; this feel of an age-old tradition that really is quite something to behold. It’s an honour for me to have the opportunity to ask you a few questions about your music. Thanks of course for taking the time to answer my questions.
Tell me please about the feel of the album. This spiritual realm that ‘World Music’ takes you on and that Goat conjure up through sound.
Well, let me first say after reading thru your questions that I am very happy and grateful that you like our album, that is always fantastic to hear. I will try and answer all questions but some might be a bit hard since there is not so much thought as you might think in our music and it is hard to analyze for us. We really just make music from our hearts and we don’t know how to put that process into words. And some experiences that listeners get are their own and I cant explain it for them. But I try and do my best. The feel of the album for me is that I think it turned out great, I am happy about it and so are everyone in Goat who has heard it, as far as I know. I really cant say what the feel of the album is for you but for us it is a good example of sounds from our world as we interpret it.
What is the band’s creative process? I’d love to gain an insight into the writing and recording of the songs that make up ‘World Music’.
Mostly we jam and don’t make songs at all but when we record we sometimes build up tracks by making overdubs on rhythmic patterns. A fun way of making music in the studio. We have our own analog studio so we can take all the time we need. We record on tape and never edit anything. It is very effortless for us to make music, we do it without expectations or musical neurosis’s.
Who are Goat? It feels like you must have been together from here to eternity–is this the case?
Goat are more of a musical tradition then a band in the classic sense. Originally from Korpilombolo but spread out with its members. Other people are also part of it. The first music played under the name of Goat was done centuries ago.
Tell me please about your hometown in Sweden. How does this place shape your music?
The rhythms are a very important part of our traditional music. The search for the transcendental state of mind. Also the openess to all kinds of music, the realization that all music are the same in a way. And of course the collective ideas of the village and the religion practiced there, you are not important as an individual, but as part of your collective, you are.
I love the spoken word piece at the beginning of ‘Goatman’. It reminds me of Eden Ashbez. I love how this psychedelic blues infused Afro beat opus directly follows-The Stooges, Sun Ra Arkestra, Fela Kuti, the Congos all at once). There is this expression spoken of “to walk together”, “where people depend upon and help each other, so man can pray together the same moral principles and together reaffirm them.”
Please tell me more about these moral principles that you hold dear?
There is not so much to tell, the quote does not describe any moral principles, just the simple insight that what is lost in our part of the world is the basic need to “walk together”. And with that, the collective moral is going to fade away. People need a context. With the discussing individualism of out time we risk to loose the creation and development of our moral principles together.
Music is clearly a big part of your life. This musical tradition. Please discuss the importance of music in your lives?
Music is everything. The biggest secret of humanity.
‘Disco Fever’ has this irresistible funk groove-as good as anything by Funkadelic. “People keep dancing” is a lyric that perfectly sums up the song; this moog/organ sound is like Booker T back in the 60s. Tell me please about this song and your memories of recording it?
Well I don’t know, I think we just played and the song came out. Not more, not less. The lyric was written quite fast I remember. There is just not much to tell. No secrets, just music ha ha!
One of my favourite moments of ‘World Music’ is this heavenly sound of meandering acoustic guitar that closes ‘Goathead’. It echoes the spirit of Ali Farka Toure and it’s as if the melody drifts into the heart of the moon. Can you recall writing this guitar melody and the importance of its inclusion?
I love that part too, it is beautiful. I didn’t write the melody, it just happened when we played I guess, it is the same melody that the song starts with. But the ending of the song makes it complete for sure.
Who is responsible for that sublime guitar line on ‘Golden Dawn’? The sound of 60s guitar instrumental/surf music.
I can’t tell really, we don’t care about who makes what and so on. Everyone playing on a song are responsible for making it to what it is.
‘Let It Bleed’ is this soulful pop tour de force filled with pop laden hooks. Its sunshine feel just makes all your troubles immediately go away. Is the title perhaps an ode to The Rolling Stones? There is some hell of a jam on this track. I’d love to know whether this jam was done in one take or was it less straight forward than that?
The whole song is a first take I recall. Most tracks on the album are.
‘Run To Your Mama’ is vintage rock ‘n’ roll-could be Jimmy Page playing there together with the sound of 60s Detroit. Amazing stuff. I love how ‘Goatlord’ follows next with this spiritual awakening of pump organs and acoustic guitar and mesmerising vocals. Please tell me about this and what it means if you can?
It doesn’t mean anything I think. It was just a good way to make the order of the songs you know, but it is your interpretation that counts, what you hear is the correct meaning of it. That is how music works! But for me it doesn’t have to be so complex, Tones and moods should just be placed together and into each other with sensibility. Then magic occurs.
What are you currently listening to?
A band from Gothenburg called Slow Gold, Surfs up with Beach boys, and some stuff with Manu Dibango. I also love the Allah – las record.
What’s next for Goat?
Some recordings and releases coming up before the next album shall be made, a US tour and a bunch of summer festivals.
Thanks very much for your time and kindness to help out by doing this interview with me. I am honoured to be given this chance. Congratulations once again on your life-affirming music. All the very best with everything and thank you.
Thanks! We are honored you wanted to do it and that you like our music!
‘World Music’ by Goat is out now on Rocket Recordings.
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