The second album from the mysterious masked troupe Goat shows us their darker side. Here on 'Commune' they display heavier riffing than their debut, pairing the darker tones with their signature Eastern mysticism, hypnotic Afro rhythms, and cyclic kraut-funk.
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- Commune by Goat
Finally, Goat's "difficult" second album is upon us. Their debut 'World Music' catapulted the mysterious Swedish voodoo-psych outfit onto the world stage with its mixture of wah-fuzz riffing, energetically chanted vocals and mystical polyrhythms, with colourful and hyper-kinetic live rituals to match. The pressure is on, then, for 'Commune' to be something a bit special.
Thankfully this is a band with ambition to match their hype, and 'Commune' is far from simply 'World Music' part two. I've spent the weekend letting it settle in before writing this but I still feel like I'm getting my head around it. All the signature moves from the first album are still present, but the emphasis here is much more on repetition, drones and deeply danceable psych-fuzz indulgences, often showing a darker and angrier side than we've previously heard.
Opener 'Talk To God' is based around a twiddly Eastern-sounding riff that builds and recedes in hypnotic fashion for nigh-on seven minutes with plenty of that trademark chanting, while the next three songs feel like an exercise in tension building, with some Link Wray-ish vibrato chords shuddering through the trance-like 'Words', wah-psych afrobeat vibes with strained vocals in 'The Light Within' and then the hazy Eastern shuffle of instrumental 'To Travel The Path Unknown'.
It's here that things really get interesting though, with 'Goatchild' providing the first big surprise with a boy singer doing some call-and-response with the two girls who handle most of the vocals, a booming, snarling hybrid of Michael Gira and Jim Morrison. It has a weird detached, raga-ish drone rock feel with a bassline that cycles around in 3/4 over the 4/4 vocal line.
'Goatslaves' which follows is one of the album's instant stand-outs, an explosion of righteous fury full of whirling woodblock percussion, crunching riffs and angry vocals. "Too many people live on their knees," they roar. The guitar solo here is a smeared, backwards howl over the dense percussive assault. It sounds like the single.
From here 'Hide From The Sun' has a guitar line a little bit 'Paint It Black'-era Stones with some unison vocals and nice crunchy fuzz when it hits, then Bondye is an hypnotic jam with meandering fiddle/guitar interplay that takes the jammy direction they've been hinting at in live performances to its natural conclusion by removing all the formally structured song bits.
They go out with a bang with 'Gathering Of Ancient Tribes', the only track besides the opener to pass the six-minute mark. It takes a more positive angle than the other highlight 'Goatslaves' in its pleas for harmony - "Let us be reborn," they shout, "Go tell everybody you need everybody. Go tell everybody you love everybody." It's joyous and explosive and repetitive and strangely moving, an exasperated primal howl for unity that descends into soaring, crunching guitar abuse that eventually burns out to reveal the skeletal drones that underpin the track.
If you couldn't be bothered reading that and have skipped to the end, in a nutshell it's less poppy and more repetitive and danceable than 'World Music', but also more diverse, and feels more like it's supposed to be listened to as a whole rather than a collection of stand-alone songs, but most importantly they still have the vitality and originality that made that album such a runaway success. This lot are the real deal.
7/10 Jonny Chinchen 1st April 2015
As others have commented, this doesn't reach the heights of World Music, mainly due to the dual female singer thing getting a bit wearing on the ears, and slick production which dulls the edges - the sound is fatter, but there's less energy.
I also find I have to be in the right mood for these guys, without any booze etc., the tunes are very samey and lacking in interest, but after a bit of lubrication/medication, the record seems to come to life a bit more!
Hopefully they will have a few new tricks when it comes to their 3rd LP...
7/10 kimbo 30th December 2014
If you're looking for World Music status, well, it doesn't get there.
However, it's a pretty good album, with a much more polished production than their previous effort (come to think about it, that might be a bit bad), worth a listen by all african druming kraut psychedelia fans (there, I included all Goat cliches in one single phrase).
Couldn't resist buying it, comes in a nice colorful vinyl plus a 7". Quite a treat.
8/10 James 26th September 2014
note to self: don't write reviews after a 12 hour shitter of a day at work. On reflection a further few listens and half a bottle of red have swayed my initial thoughts somewhat and whilst i'm still not sure it hits the heights of world music i think my reaction was indeed knee jerk to some extent. It's growing on me. Apologies all round. Now go stand in the corner and think about what you've done.
5/10 James 25th September 2014
I must admit i'm often guilty of getting caught up in the odd bit of hyperbole from time to time but eventually the dust settles and when you wipe it away sometimes things don't seem quite as impressive as before. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed World Music as much as the next man without perhaps kissing its derrière as much as in some quarters, and as new and exciting as it was i found it a bit one dimensional and samey for it to qualify for the instant 'classic' staus many folks granted it. However I caught them live at Primavera last year and they seemed to possess the energy and musicianship to persuade me that they were the real deal.
So i waited with baited breath along with the other baying wolves for album number two! Well slap me round the face with a voodoo doll and call me Betty what a let down! to me this just seems like a totally rubbish watered down version of the debut. The vocals sound strained, the production half hearted and weak, the lyrics a bit cringey, the riffs bludgeoned upon you instead of inviting you into the groove and locking you in as they did so seductively with the first album. The only relief coming with just the odd impressive guitar solo but these are few and far between. I've tried not to be too knee jerk but this is really leaving me feeling a bit flat. Fair play to them i'm guessing they didn't expect this level of attention and expectation and i'm also guessing they had little in the bag for a relatively quick follow up but i think a bit of time and consideration may have been a wiser move than releasing a sub par effort if for nothing more than prolonging the 'myth' that bit longer.
I guess somethings are just 'of the moment' and World Music will retain its magic moments for me if i just pretend Commune doesn't exsist. I'm sure the tastemakers will scoff but that sixth form drama school dance class face mask shouty vocal thing just ain't my bag at the minute man i mean it's just a bit annoying init. You'll find my copy in the bargain bin.
Now where's my Dunedin Temporary comp gone i need to cleanse my soul of this phony vodoo pap.
9/10 Tom Donne 21st July 2014
Whisper it, but via legit and not-so-legit reaches of the interwebs you can find just enough of this album to piece together a decent picture of what it's going to sound like.
Goatees: it does not disappoint.
It's darker, heavier and and slower than World Music and doesn't appear to have the big, obvious hitters of its illustrious predecessor. The Eastern vibe is brought to the fore quite a bit more, and there are times when you could be mistaken for thinking that Robert Fripp has donned a ritual mask and joined in the voodoo fun. This is not a criticism.
Personally I cannot wait to hear this one on wax. I just wish it was coming out earlier so that it could soundtrack my summer like World Music did two years ago.
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