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Arts and Culture

End of the World Music

For our final pick of 2012, the stunningly weird Goat.

By Adrian Mack 3 Jan 2013 | TheTyee.ca

Adrian Mack contributes a regular music column to The Tyee and frequently sits behind Rich Hope.

A few weeks ago, Gregory Adams reported on Nick Cave's soundtrack for the movie Lawless. Between the concept and the personnel that Cave put together for the project, including the great Mark Lanegan, I was expecting album-of-the-year material.

It didn't pan out that way. Lawless felt anemic to me, especially with Cave's soggy take on "Fire and Brimstone," a truly apocalyptic work of deep woods death-gospel recorded in 1971 by Link Wray in a tin chicken shack behind his brother's farmhouse. How could you mess up something like that?

Lawless was a bust, but then, a couple of weeks later, along comes Goat to give me the end-of-the-world jollies I was looking for. Their story is a doozy: Goat allegedly isn't a band but an anonymous multi-generational voodoo cult based in that darkest of regions -- northern Sweden. Their debut album World Music is a groovy mindfuck of a record, and probably the most exciting thing I heard all year.

If nothing else, Goat surpassed everyone in forcing critics to reach for 2012's most unlikely array of comparisons. It was nutshelled over at the Piccadilly Records website by somebody called Darryl, who wrote, "Think Funkadelic meets Spacemen 3 meets Fela Kuti meets Can meets ESG."

Let me add to all that: in "Golden Dawn" I hear an army of wooden xylophones flanking spazzy guitar freakouts and the most cavernous bass this side of Geezer Butler being lowered into a lava tube. I hear wonky tuning, Bonham-sized tom workouts, and I hear voices! Witchy women's voices; strident, powerful, and almost defiant, like the Go! Team gone super-native. I hear them pounding out some sort of message of universal emancipation over the crooked beat and unkempt Hammond psychedelics of "Disco Fever," or piling even more urgency on top of the album's governing vibe of wobbly afro-funk.

Are you getting the picture? This is among the most inspired, liberated, and unselfconscious pop -- oh God, I wish "Run to Your Mama" was a radio hit -- we've heard in years. World Music sounds like it's being channeled as much as it's being played, and if opening our veins like this is the way to keep guitar (and xylophone) music au courant in a time when there's a fresh rain of fire and brimstone every other weekday and EDM is the bastard soundtrack, then let it bleed.  [Tyee]

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