Goat’s third album sees the band step away from some of the chaotic fury that’s marked their past two releases, embracing the acoustic, softer side of their psychedelic obsessions. Where 2012’s World Music came out of nowhere, grinding influences from African funk and Krautrock to Brazilian and Swedish psychedelia, their follow-up, Communion seemed like a lateral move. It was a higher profile burn down the same corridors, still impressively raucous and slightly unhinged, but not a big leap in sound from their debut. In the face of this, the band have chosen to focus more on their acoustic side amping up their reliance on Middle Eastern psych, the Bo Hansson class of homegrown musicians in their native Sweden and, as usual, African Highlife, but toning down the volume and pummel.
The band’s actually taken some criticism for their heavy borrowing from others’ traditions to craft a tapestry of their own, which is fair. There are absolutely some great originals that the band borrows from that should be lifted up, not replaced with Goat’s amalgam, but hopefully their digestion of influences causes more digging on the part of others as a result of their elevated status. If Goat act as the doorway to kids stocking their collections with Sublime Frequencies and Awesome Tapes From Africa reissues, then that’s a start for me. As for the record itself, Requiem smolders more than they have in the past, holding back some of their rhythmic outbursts in favor of strums augmented by a slow twisting kaleidoscope of smoke that finds them entering a more nighttime shamanic feeling, than “folk” per se. The best moments still have a touch of that rhythm kick, but get lost in the churning haze, like “Goatband” or the wind chime twinkle of “Psychedelic Lover”
These feel like wandering songs, shared songs that purport an oral tradition. They pull in the tribal elements that Goat has made their bread and butter, but they have a more transient quality to them. Its as if they’ve shifted their eyes from the stage to the roadside, playing with the people, rather than to the people. The record’s tone becomes hushed as it draws to a close on the spare, “Ubuntu,” easily the quietest and calming Goat track to date. This is finally a different side of Goat and one that, as usual, reveals more of what’s on the band’s record shelves than anything. The volume may be lower, but the echo still remains.
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