Goat at Electric Brixton
Goat is the answer to the question: what would happen if you took some limelight-averse Swedish shamans and put them in an internationally touring rock band? The band never show their faces, preferring to let the music and their masks – ranging from the traditionally shamanic to the monkey/creepy dolls head end of the spectrum – do the talking. Despite their shyness, the group has amassed quite a cult following, with this tour for their latest album selling out venues around the UK.
Goat, in varying guises, have been jamming for 30 to 40 years in a little nook of Sweden known for its history of witchcraft, according to their publicity. They’ve been releasing records with three core members and four touring since 2012’s World Music. Commune and Requiem followed, with a fourth album due at the end of last year, the bracingly titled Oh Death.
The show starts with a memento mori in Soon You Die before launching into the hypnotic fusion that is their trademark with Goatfuzz. Their sound mixes experimental rock, hard metal, Middle Eastern influences, Turkish psychedelia and Latin American rhythms, like cumbia and Afrobeat, to create long, sinuous grooves. Their music has moods, from the menacing twitch of It’s Time for Fun to warm, cascading guitars in Blow Your Horns. Disco Fever uses colourful synths, while Gathering of Ancient Tribes is something more primal and atonal. Goatman blends a catchy, nonsense-sounding vocal hook with complex polyrhythmic drumming.
The experimental musicians are always an enigmatic proposition and tonight in Brixton proves no different, with the band as charismatic and pleasingly inscrutable as you could expect them to be. They play with effortless musicianship. The main set ends with the bewitching Let It Burn. The funky and propulsive Do the Dance raises the vibrations for an encore that unspools with ease, like the rest of the set. The uplifting Union of Mind and Soul makes pan pipes cool, while Goathead is another irresistible jam. They end with arguably their best-known song so far, Run to Your Mama, where the vocalists’ hoarse, distinctive style works best with oblique, vaguely menacing lyrics.
Goat play alternative rock at its most tribal and ritualistic, immersing themselves in ever more complex renditions of their music. It’s a joy to behold.
Photos: Ambra Vernuccio
For further information and future events visit Goat’s website here.
Watch the video for the single It’s Time for Fun here: