Goat - Fuzzed in Europe

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2017-10-27
Goat - Fuzzed in Europe
Goat - Fuzzed in Europe

I went through a tough period of my life when I really disliked Sir Isaac Newton. Obviously, I never met the guy, but he did lay gravity and calculus on the world. And he just seemed to me to be the kind of person who wanted nothing more than to figure everything out and take the surprise out of life. I bad-mouthed him to anyone who would listen. But then, and this was a pleasant surprise, I found out he spent most of his time with alchemy, which is the art of taking basic stuff and magically transforming it into gold.

That’s what ritual does: It levitates reality into the heavens.

And the music of Goat is very ritualistic. It levitates us all into the heavens. Their first record, World Music, is a classic of powerful guitar rock, folk artifacts, ethnic percussion, harmonized and chanted female vocalizing, and psychedelic wah wah sounds. The album has alchemy in its grooves. It’s in the tradition of other Swedish greats such as Archimedes Badkar, Kebnekaise, and Algarnas Tradgard who all specialized in breaking the sound barrier of world music boundaries. A second album Commune followed with more of the same, with, perhaps the rough rock edge diminished a bit in favor of magical harmonized guitar work. It did, however, provide the ears of the world with the song “Talk to God” which is pretty much the band’s intent and, by the way, also the purpose of ritual.

In all fairness, it should be noted that repetition is very much part of this music. But, as my friend, Kilda Defnut, always says, “Repetition reveals the nuances of life; and clever repetition reveals the nuances of the universe.” In fact, she created her own theology and her Sacred Maxim XV states, “Rock music must be about repetition, life, and the universe, but not necessarily in that order.”

So to this Goat live album Fuzzed in Europe: well, it’s an all you can hear guitar buffet. Imagine Clapton’s guitar solo in “Presence of the Lord” from his Blind Faith days stretched over the entire length of the album. “Talk to God,” which in its former self was intricate in its guitar work, has morphed into wah wah pedal overdrive that bends the song into some sort of hypnotic dancing serpent. Quite frankly, I love both versions of the tune. “Time for Fun” is funky as the bass and percussion propel the track. I am reminded of how much I loved dub when I discovered the music of Linton Kwesi Johnson. The keyboards, which played such a big part in the band’s first album World Music, hover for moment but seem to disappear into the night. That was strange. My friend, Kilda Defnut (See above), suggested that somebody in the band pulled a Rick Wakeman during the Tales from Topographic Oceans tour and told a roadie to nip out for a curry for him to eat while the others carried on. I don’t know about that, but this is high octane electric guitar rock from the 70’s territory.

That’s odd because they were touring their third studio release, Requiem, which was quite acoustic with a lot of Simon and Garfunkel “El Condor Pasa” flutes. Oh, guitars rear their heads once in a while, but for the most part, that record sounds like some rag tag conglomeration of world musicians playing in a deep Swedish forest grove without an electric circuit to their collective name.

But despite all the rediscovered voltage, this is ritualistic music. It isn’t a soundtrack to a party. This music isn’t bloated with the gravity that Sir Isaac Newton discovered. No. This stuff is inflated with his much preferred alchemy that levitates the ordinary into the sublime.

The show continues with “Sing in Silence.” The flutes from the Requiem version are all gone. The guitars take the lead as the song shuffles along in a 70’s early Steely Dan mode. I’m thinking about “Bodhisattva” from Countdown to Ecstasy. In a way, underneath all the ethnic percussion and chanting, this is really is a great rock album. On Commune, “Gathering of Ancient Tribes” added a pretty heavy exclamation point to the end of the record. This live version follows suit, with once again, that hypnotic serpent dancing to the sinewy guitar. “The Sun The Moon” simply rocks.  And “Run to Your Mama” extends and, once again, levitates this world electric boogie music into the heavens.

So what about all of the tribal masks and costumes? If you haven’t seen them live or on You Tube, it’s worth your time. Yeah, it’s been done before: Peter Gabriel dressed as a flower; The Art Ensemble of Chicago; David Bowie as Ziggy; Ian Anderson in minstrel tights and codpiece, and, of course, the great Arthur Brown hosted on a crucifix with or without fire coming out of his head. (Notice how I didn’t reference Kiss or Insane Clown Posse?) And I’m not sure if all the tribal attire has any really deep psychological Jungian archetypal significance. But that doesn’t stop all of this from being really cool. And this music is, hopefully, more about travelling into your soul than looking for stupidity.

Now, there may not be much of a difference between soul searching and stupidity, but that much matters a lot when it comes to ritual.

This Fuzzed in Europe album is different from all their other records. I really love that first one, World Music. But this one has serpents dancing in the aisles. And I like to think that good old Sir Isaac Newton, if the smart geezer were alive today, would put down his William Blakean Mundane Shell of gravity and calculus for the moment, lose the preverbal wig, let his hair down, discover the music of Linton Kwesi Johnson, buy a concert tee shirt, kick up the sawdust, get into the front row, and dance with those serpents who are always able to bend the beauty of time and space, and just like this album, bring every one of us a little bit closer to the exact pleasure of the universal perfect circle.

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