Commune is not as strong a record as its predecessor, GOAT’s 2012 debut, World Music, but it is infinitely more interesting. Eschewing the rabid, upbeat afrobeat funk of the Swedes’ first offering for Can-inspired krautrock and decidedly darker rhythms makes Commune a fantastically diverse album, even if the manic fusion of influences and talents leaves a rawness to the finished product.
The band itself, cloaked in a haze of PR bullshit and tongue-in-cheek Swedish smirks, leaves a lot to the imagination as to how Commune was created. The music, which owes much to ’90s rave culture and contemporary electronica, is composed of tribal drums, psych guitar lines and other decidedly real instruments. The decidedly non-digital production on Commune isn’t meant to sound organic, but instead is a mad-hatter approach to recreating dance music by way of late-’60s acid and garage music.
Commune pushes aside some of the core strengths of GOAT’s original release, namely its dance-focused world amalgam blitzkrieg, for a more varied but less driven collection of songs. “To Travel The Path Unknown” borrows a page from the book of Ash Rah Tempel with a relatively minimalistic loadout and a jam-style fascination with a few key hooks instead of a keen eye to song structure. Meanwhile, “Goatchild” throws ridiculous throw-back hippie-trucker lyrics at a wall slick with wah-wah and walking bass lines—it wouldn’t be out of place at Woodstock, but it seems out of place in Commune.
Meanwhile, standout track “Goatslaves” calls on some of the best moments of World Music to drive it—a punishing tempo with a focus on drug-tinged guitar and bass lines, chanted vocals coated in spring reverb and a reminder that, at its core, GOAT are a band making dance music. By far the dreariest parts of Commune are the points where the band seemingly forgets that, meandering around obscure kraut influences instead of doing what they do best. The exception to that rule is when the band dig into Indian references, like the serious Eastern mega-jam “Hide From The Sun”. It’s the kind of song you’ll forgive for being incongruous with the first half of the record, as it sneaks in fuzz-coated sitar leads just right for drone-heads and rave-kids alike.
GOAT’s latest is still a record with plenty of teeth—and those jaws are sunk into a remarkably varied array of styles. While contemporaries like Fuck Buttons are still making “electronica without electronics”, Commune‘s lengthy list of influences is both its biggest advantage, and most frustrating selling point.