Goat, often referred to as goat (jp) to avoid confusion with the Swedish band, is a minimal Japanese percussion band headed up by Koshiro Hino (also of YPY and Kakuhan). Ex-Kodo taiko member Rai Tateishi (who occasionally moonlights on flute) and Manisdron’s Takafumi Okada form the percussion section, joining Akihiko Ando on saxophone as you’ve never heard it before, Atsumi Tagami on bass and Hino on guitar.  

Taking minimalism to the next level of preciseness, the quintet makes music so pointillistic that you’ll be flabbergasted to learn their instruments are played by humans and not machines. But this is no chin-stroking affair. Listening to Goat is a kinetic experience that will leave you head-banging as much as foot-tapping. 

The band’s attention to rhythm has earned them diehard fans across the world in scenes from jazz to techno, and 2023 saw the quintet embark on a 24-date tour around Europe, where they sold out shows across the continent, from London to Copenhagen. The year also witnessed the release of the band’s third album, Joy in Fear, which marked the 10th anniversary of Goat’s formation.  

Hailed by online record store Boomkat as the “tightest band in existence right now,” Goat even reached TW’s Best of 2023 list with their new album, which we described as a “magnificent album that you’ll whip out to impress friends as much as your ears.” The album’s domestic release shows included support from hip-hop heavyweight Chinza Dopeness and Phew, a veteran of the electronic scene.  

A live band to challenge the senses, Goat is not to be missed in 2024. Can’t make a show? At least nab a copy of the Rhythm and Sound album. 

1. SSS by CZN 

Trio of Leon Marks on dub/electronic duties, percussionist João Pais Filipe and drummer Valentina Magaletti. It’s likely improvised, but the album sounds structured, with fantastic irregular rhythms similar to African grooves and polyrhythm. Their methods are different, but their vibe is pretty close to Goat. 

2. Pow-Wow by Stephen Mallinder 

Solo debut album from Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder, akin to the UK’s 80s cult sound of Throbbing Gristle and The Pop Group. At Goat’s show the other day, Mark Fell told me that he was reminded of Pow-Wow. It was the first time I’d heard it, but upon listening, I was really inspired. A recent favorite. 

3. Nakibembe Embaire Group by Nakibembe Embaire Group  

The Ugandan xylophone group is joined by Gabber Modus Operandi and Wahono for three tracks, adding electronics to the original songs. In true Nyege Nyege style, it’s a bold mix of electronic and local recordings — a fantastic, daring composition. 

4. The Beat My Head Hit by Ben Vida, Yarn/Wire and Nina Dante  

This album is completely different from any of Vida’s previous works. Based upon poetry and live recordings, The Beat My Head Hit can be classed as composition within the context of American minimal contemporary music. With its unhurried performance and exquisite rhythmic wordplay, the album is one I could listen to forever. 

5. Sticks, Stones & Breaking Bones by Will Guthrie  

Drummer Will Guthrie, a collaborator of Oren Ambarchi and Mark Fell, plays with influential gamelan groups and creates edits and collages for his own works, but this solo album was probably simply recorded in one take, with no overdubbing. An improvisation characterized by its short minimal phrases. Brimming with ideas, it’s an album whose phrases and timbres I’ll never tire of.

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