Goat, the Swedish world music/krautrock collective, have returned with their third album ‘Requiem’. The band have, in the past, claimed to be heirs to a decades long tradition of music making in their hometown of Korpilombolo, influenced by vodou curses. Performing in masks and designating one person to speak for the group, Goat are veiled in mystery.
This origin story, though interesting, doesn’t impinge on what really matters, their stellar output thus far. Their previous two albums, World Music and Commune, were freewheeling mashups of genres, all polyrhythms and incantational singing and their live shows were hailed as joyous affairs that you could dance to non-stop. With that in mind, how does Requiem, the band’s first double LP, hold up?
One thing that immediately springs to mind is how apt the title is. Requiem is a more downbeat affair than previous Goat albums – there are fewer extended jams on this effort and less heavy material overall, and there’s also a greater reliance on acoustic instruments. This gives the album a more muted feel, though it doesn’t suffer for it.
Songs such as ‘Goatband’ and ‘Goatfuzz’ feature the classic Goat sound. These are loose jams around a central theme, accented with handclaps, percussion, fuzz guitars and the whooping from female vocalists that often crops up on Goat tracks. On these particular tracks it does feel like the listener has joined Goat during a mammoth jam session. You’re dropped into a song that is already at full throttle and one that also fades out, not defining a beginning or end.
Other songs, like ‘Trouble In The Streets’ or ‘I Sing In Silence’ feel like more fleshed out attempts at writing actual songs. These are the songs where the acoustic instruments feature more prominently, such as a mandolin on ‘Try My Robe’, or the bright and playful flute riff on ‘Union Of Sun And Moon’.
For a double album there aren’t many tracks which feel unnecessary. Even when one idea is stretched out over a whole song, like on ‘Alarms’ (hi-life guitar meets vocal exaltations) or ‘Temple Rhythms’ (heavy percussion plus insistent flute), the results are fun and don’t bog the album down.
Penultimate track ‘Goodbye’ is a wonderful eight minute duel between acoustic guitars and really should close out the album. This falls to ‘Ubuntu’, which does sound like an afterthought, with vocal samples over a tentative synth melody. This is but a minor complaint and is possibly the only misstep on what is otherwise another consistent and, at times, transcendental entry in Goat’s discography.