The experimental psychedelic rock band from Sweden remains a mask- and costume-wearing mystery. Nevertheless, they managed to gain recognition with their explosive and energetic performances.
There is no direct association between mysterious Swedish psychedelicists GOAT and revered Argentinian master of magical realism, Jorge Luis Borges. Yet their mission appears to be the same. Borges generated his ideas from historical curiosities across the globe—gaucho knife duels on the South American plains, Middle Eastern heresiarchs plotting treacheries in secret libraries, Chinese pirates waging wars against the Emperor—and twisted them into fictions that blurred the lines between fortified footnotes and outright fantasy. GOAT’s sound is the sonic manifestation of this principle, as was evidenced in their aptly-named debut album World Music, which incorporated elements of Nigerian afrobeat, German krautrock, Anatolian funk, and a host of other global micro-niches into a hallucinatory cultish celebration of rock’s diverse manifestations. Deprived of the requisite band biography, early experiencers World Music and subsequent album’s Commune and Requiem electrified tribalism and lysergic compositions had the inevitable questions regarding the origin and timeframe of the recordings. The truth only became knottier every time the elusive GOAT collective provided their cryptic answers.
The individual identities involved with the bands three albums remain shrouded in mystery: GOAT spokespersons maintain that the group is merely an ongoing multi-generational collective of musicians from the isolated Swedish locality of Korpilombolo. Located north of the Arctic Circle, the town is a junction of native Sami people, Scandinavian settlers, and the rare infiltration of wayfaring outsiders. GOAT’s recorded output is a fermentation of the region’s traditional songs, which are a conglomerate of outside influences culled over the course of the last century. Beyond that, GOAT is willing to divulge very little. The secrecy of the individual members and the dearth of information on Korpilombolo do little to substantiate or refute GOAT’s claims. It’s almost as if GOAT are taking cues from Borges’ short story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, wherein a clandestine enclave of intellectuals attempt to create a new reality by inserting articles on a fictitious foregone state and its puzzling culture into modern encyclopaedias. Borges’ secret society wanted their heretical ideologies to infiltrate common thought through an invented past; GOAT wants to revitalize the communal experience of rock music by creating an alternate origin story.
Ultimately, it is GOAT’s music that speaks the most about them, their heavy doses of acidic grooves, hypnotic incantations, and serpentine guitar lines explore new and uncharted territories. The band asserts that their sound seeks a universal spirituality. “GOAT is mainly a symbol of sacrifice. To sacrifice the individual for the collective good. To become one with the rest of humanity and universe,” said one unnamed GOAT co-conspirator in a rare piece of correspondence.
“We often talk about how all music is world music and all other genres are old fashioned,” the collective member continued. “All you can hear is the universal similarity between all music. The music from some old cult in northern Sweden can be the same as the music from wherever.” And with that philosophy, GOAT have propagated their crossbred music and mysticism through their music – their three albums (World Music, Commune, Requiem), and recent singles compilation Headsoup were all released via the UK record label ROCKET RECORDINGS (Commune and Requiem also released by SUB POP in USA), and their touring of the globe relentlessly since the release of ‘World Music’ in 2012. And while we’ll never see GOAT’s faces on the cover of a glossy magazine, their intoxicating conjurations are poised to infiltrate our collective psyche with the subversive magical allure of a Borgesian fable.