The other day, I answered a random question on Twitter about what I thought my favorite Lou Reed record was.
Or which record I thought was his best. I answered easily, “The Blue Mask.” It’s just my favorite. So many paranoid, crazy, psychotic moments. All of this mixed with bursts of “almost” illumination, as though he was trying to find a place of peace and understanding in a violent, horrifying, confusing beautiful universe, and at times almost succeeding in that. If only to slip and tumble back down the rocky precipice into hopelessness and existential angst once again.
Anyway, little did I know that by answering that simple question (an easy one for me, though my choice was split between Blue Mask and Drella, but Drella is just so sad) that I was opening a Pandora’s box of sorts. That a few minutes later I would receive a somewhat cryptic pm on Twitter with a simple message. “YOU ARE A WINNER!” It began, in all caps. It followed with a BandCamp link and a redemption code. “Enter your GOLDEN TICKET, Charlie, ENJOY YOUR TRIP,” it concluded. Feeling like I just stepped onto the boat ride down the tunnel of terror in Wonka’s factory, I followed the link and entered the code.
What I got for my winning ticket was an advance copy of the latest release from GOATS on Submarine Broadcasting Company’s wonderful experimental music label based in the UK.
I have been following Submarine Broadcasting’s releases for about a year now, and they have definitely earned my respect and admiration for putting out some of the most time-bending, mind altering psychedelic and experimental music to be found anywhere else in the world. I have had some passing encounters with the GOATS project, having heard most of their first release, the self-titled “GOATS” on the same netlabel. I had an inkling of what I was in for, and I admit, I was excited.
After downloading the release in high quality wave file format, I unzipped it to my desktop and found within it a single file. I anxiously clicked to start listening and I was immediately transported. The music flowed seamlessly between ideas – spending some time lingering and whirling around, caught in each little eddy before drifting casually into other strange territories. There are moments of pure song interspersed with extended, amorphous musical meanderings. It gave the whole thing a sense of change and flow that felt very natural. I’d be listening and find myself drifting off into a blissful meditative state. I kept forgetting I was actually listening to some sounds that people halfway across the world from me had made and recorded, instead of the internal musical musings of my own mind at rest. Thirty-eight minutes later the current slowed and drifted as it entered and was swallowed up in the great green sea. It was over long before I wanted it to be, so I listened again.
There are so many sonic layers here, yet it portrays this amazing depth without once over complicating anything.
It evolves in real time and feels like it was recorded all at once, in one sitting, and it worked by some miraculous coincidence of cosmic synchronicity. Imagining this happening in someone’s house, I wanted to go there immediately and hang out on their couch and participate. I felt…I don’t know…welcome? I felt like I was part of it, that I was already contributing by the mere act of listening. My life’s experiences and childhood memories and all the strange music I have absorbed over the years was helping to color it in. Like we were doing a big painting together in the nude, thousands of miles apart, while impossibly bizarre alien creatures looked on through technicolor telescopes.
Listening to this release was a one of a kind experience – it went well beyond appreciating music for its usual recognizable trappings. This was something different entirely – a waving tapestry disintegrating in the wind, a soundscape you can curl up in and touch the hair of the universe. A place to plug in and feel connected to something bigger, and at the same time much smaller. Microscopic. Because music like this truly shrinks the world and lets us feel a part of it while we fumble around in the dark, looking for something we can call “meaningful.” This release from GOATS just dispenses with meaning as though it has never mattered at all. There is only this moment and the next, where the borders between them dissolve and blend into one continuous unending moment. And that feels great. Far out.
A limited edition of 30 pre-sale copies are available at BandCamp, and they ship around May 16th. Better get one while you can.
Previous release from GOATS: https://submarinebroadcastingco.bandcamp.com/album/goats