Headsoup by Goat

Release date: August 28, 2021
Label: Rocket Recordings

It was back in 2012 when the anonymous masked Swedish psychedelic collective Goat first emerged – and as the press release reminded me – claiming they were from the remote and cursed village of Korpilombo in northern Sweden, a place where inhabitants had for centuries been devoted to a form of voodoo introduced by a travelling witch doctor. This was matched with equally dizzying results with their debut album World Music – from album sleeve through to the grooves of its electric musical journey. Met with critical acclaim, the band and their funky dance-ability head filling nourishment could not be ignored, if you were looking in the right direction.

For those who have witnessed Goat live, this strange and beguiling mix of head-spinning psych, Desert Blues, Afro-beat rhythms, costumes, and Swedish folklore comes to a thrilling climax where it all makes a kind of (great escapist) sense. All at once visually eye-catching, absorbing, and damn groovy. It matters little whether there are traces of it feeling contrived or gimmicky, because they are so bloody infectiously good.

They followed their debut with 2014’2 Commune, and Requiem arrived in 2016, so as they approach nearly a decade of ritualistic trippy grooviness they release Headsoup. A compilation of non-album material from across their career, standalone singles, B-sides, digital edits and two breath- taking new songs that indicate they may even be amazingly taking the levels up a notch.

What Headsoup (fittingly titled) does do more so than their studio albums, is it showcases how wider and deeper they have explored their sound, for what is a more expansive listen than the afore-mentioned three studio albums. Nevertheless, this compilation can still be roughly divided into three (over?) simplified sections. The first, a familiar wizardry stylized opening set of songs: ‘The Sun and the Moon’, ‘Stonegoat’ and ‘Dreambuilding’ all provide thumbs up signature sounding tunes.

The second (mainly middle) section goes deeper into curveball journeying territory. It depends on how you appreciate their stepping back from full frontal funky attack for dips into more laidback atmospherics. A few of these excursions do feel a bit undercooked as ‘The snake of Adis Adaba’ and the mellow drone of ‘Relax’ may interest Goat completists only.  There are signs, however, that a more committed and confident foray into jazzy vibes could indeed reap rewards with ‘Friday pt1’. If they could acquire the services of the on-fire Shabaka Hutchings, now that would make a mouth-watering collaboration.

The latter end of Headsoup is where the album’s standout treasures are to be found, with the stand alone released single ‘Let it Burn’ and its rolling groove offsetting another flute earworm melody. Let’s face it, it’s about time an artist grabs with both hands the flute association away from Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull, and Goat are certainly setting their stall out for a prime position takeover. Which then leaves the two new and arguably mind-blowing career bests which will only add extra dimensional goodness to their live set-list and provide tasty exciters for where the band will go next. ‘Fill your mouth’ is a belter, the key moment is when the drum beat kicks in for a full effect funky swagger as well as a (another) flute melody which will have you humming it all day long. And that leaves the closing and deservedly so 6 Music play-listed ‘Queen of the Underground’, a fantastic towering experience, with exceptional guitar work to leave the current New Wave of Classic Rock brigade quivering with fright, falling to their knees with cries of we are not worthy.

Headsoup stretches the listening experience further than before, but deeper buried compilations generally do. Fortunately, it still contains more than enough simmering wonder that it only heightens the essential need for Goat to continue to keep the groove (and us) going.

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