All manner of questions abounded throughout the long absence of psych collective Goat, since the 2017 release of their third album Requiem. Would the great Gods of psych-dom return, especially considering the fullness and finality of this last record – and the ambiguous, ominous meanings given off by the title? Would a goat – perhaps similarly to the documentary in which their soaring ‘Let It Burn’ single featured – need to be sacrificed for the band’s return? Or would the essence of Goat instead live on through the similar divinity of DJINN?
Such fears are undoubtedly assuaged by Headsoup, a collection of standalone singles, deliciously chosen B-sides and other delights, that maintains Goat’s quintessential unpredictability. Though it is confirmation of their return, Headsoup does nothing to taint the sacred mystery of Goat; the album leaves as much yearning for answers to the Goat lore as you’d have when first learning of their creative, embryonic settlement in the voodoo imbued Komprilombo; and is also colossally rewarding for both those new to the Swedish collective, and those familiar with their every elusive move, or at least thought they were.
The album is also the starkest blueprint of Goat’s primal genius, laid bare. The trio of The Sun and the Moon (B-side to Goat’s first 7”), Dreambuilding and Stonegoat (the A and B-side, respectively, released between their first and second records), for example, evoke the burgeoning psych frenzy of Komprilombo. The three addictively psych-effervescent tunes are full of the elements intrinsic to the Goat phenomenon – pulsating tribal rhythms, brash undulations from the band’s trademark fuzzwah guitar, impassioned vocals like irresistible incantations – untraceable in genre; only vaguely traceable to their obscure origins.
Goat’s anarchic, but equally reverential genre interactions are distinct upon ‘It’s Time For Fun’ and ‘Relax’ (the former the standalone single released after ‘Commune’, the latter it’s B-side); two examples disparate in their remarkable ingenuity, even from their previous brilliance. The former sees Goat (somehow) make seemingly artificial drumbeats alive with clamouring, tribal energy, amid basslines of sheer ecstasy and a call to “…bring all your friends…”. The latter emphatically states the collective’s innate ability to subsume anything into their extensive sphere of influence, pushing the envelope till there is nothing left to push; this time manifesting via a folk-jazz, drone, splendour-filled jam.
The same can be said for the genre-fluidity of ‘The Snake of Addis Ababa’, an ethio-jazz trip and the B-side of the euphoric folk peal of ‘I Sing In Silence’. Like the unpredictable meander of the group’s guitar style, the gripping surrealness in the track’s unravelling keys radiates the virtuosic energy of the jazz greats while also exuding an irrefutable amateur-ish vigour. Goat’s instrumental prowess is also outlined by the jazz-flecked ‘Goatfizz’ – incredible even among their other eponymous cuts; a jangling B-side to ‘Goatfuzz’ whose spaciness and woozy production brings hallucinatory aural sensations.
Scope and the collision of unexpected elements are abundant in Goat’s discography: their soundtracking of Killing Gävle, which illustrated their native Sweden’s tradition of raising a 12-metre straw goat (and the ensuing war to prevent it being consumed by flames), is one exceptional example. Here, the warcry of ‘Let it Burn’ – full, face-melting axe power, spiralling drums, and zero flute solos spared – is sublimely assailed by the minimal ‘Friday Pt.1’, rippling from mellifluous piano to saxophone pleas; mind-blowing in it’s ecclesiastical quiescence.
Curated extraordinarily for an extraordinary musical collective, each an ingredient impeccably vital pillar in the Goat mythos, Headsoup celebrates the vibrant trajectory of a band like no other (a phrase often said but rarely with as much authenticity). The 6-minute epic of Queen of the Underground (one of two new tracks) is perhaps the supreme ascendancy of this journey – though as proven on many occasions, Goat may once again – Phoenix-like – rise atop their already lofty previous achievements.
Headsoup is released via Rocket Recordings on August 27th, pre-order here.