I always find it refreshing when a band has an air of mystery. Daft Punk hid behind their robot helmets for a long while, and the Swedish metal band Ghost worked to keep their identities hidden for a while, too, despite some leaks over the years. No band in the psychedelic scene is more mysterious nowadays than the world-music enigmas Goat. They shun publicity and rarely do interviews, wear masks to hide their identity, and also wear elaborate costumes. Sure, this stunt has been pulled many times before in rock history, but it’s still a fun game sometimes.
Goat has created so many tall tales about its origins that it’s hard to keep track of it all. Currently based in Gothenburg, the band claims to hail from Korpilombolo, a small village of 529 inhabitants in Sweden that, according to Goat, has a history of voodoo worship after a witch doctor lived there.
Goat also claims the band started as part of the village tradition, and there have been many incarnations of the band over the last 30 to 40 years. There are now three original core members of Goat from Korpilombolo, but in live concerts, they are joined by an entourage of other masked members.
This all seems like an inside joke played on rock journalists and fans like me, but I think it’s fun. Goatman is the apparent head of the band, and he gave an interview with The Guardian in 2016 where he standoffishly stumbled over the intricate yarns and white lies of Goat’s origins. He said the band will never reveal their identities or remove their masks, and if that did happen one day, the band would end. The band recently did a photoshoot and lengthy interview with Loud & Quiet, their only photoshoot to date. It’s a fascinating article worth checking out.
Of course, none of this would matter if Goat wasn’t any good. But they are very good – having released three studio albums of glorious and freaky psych music with world-fusion influences since 2012. I stumbled upon them recently when going down the rabbit hole of Swedish psych rock bands, and I’ve listened to them ever since. Goat has a cosmic, transcendental sound, and even if they’re lying about their humble Swedish village origins, they sound as if they’ve made and recorded their music by combining the best of Third World pop, desert blues, and nomadic rock from their respective village huts.
Goat is world music for the 21st century, available to stream at your pleasure. Some throw accusations of cultural appropriation at them, but the band doesn’t buy it. Just don’t ask too many questions about these guys and gals because they won’t give you a straight answer. But, hey, why do we need to know so much anyway?
Essential Goat album: World Music (2012)
Essential Goat tracks: “Let it Burn,” “Run to Your Mama,” “Let it Bleed”