A little off the Landscapism beaten path this one. I spent the early hours of Sunday morning with 1,500 like-minded souls crammed into an old warehouse in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, adjacent to the dock where 18th century whaling ships landed their cargoes, watching a pulverising performance by a modern day Scandinavian force of nature, the Swedish psych-collective, Goat.
Seemingly arriving out of nowhere in 2012, Goat claim to originate from a commune in a small village in remote northern Sweden with a history of voodoo and arcane pagan practice; the core members having made music together since they were children and for the last 30-40 years. On stage and in interviews the members wear masks and elaborate costumes, similar in style to the Afrofuturistic Sun Ra Arkestra, and keep their identities hidden. Now this back-story and image is clearly somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and there is a fine line between genuine and original musical and cultural fusion and cliché and novelty value. However, that Goat have so far managed to walk on the right side of this line is down to the quality of their records and mesmeric live performances: a mixture of wah-wah driven psych rock (a genre that Swedes seem to excel at), kraut-rock drone, North African inspired desert blues and hypnotic Afrobeat rhythms.
There were a number of excellent Swedish bands playing at the Liverpool Festival of Psychedelia, clearly a psychedelic genius loci is abroad along the Baltic; the enigmatic Goat will, however, remain strongest in the memory, a counterpoint to the rather bland and formulaic image that most artists and bands of note currently portray.
|Image from www.subpop.com|