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Goa! - Goa!

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Artist: Goa!

Album: Goa!

Label: Robosapien

Review date: May. 2, 2003


Where does it stop and where does it begin? Just look at it, the sike-a-delic Aztec graffiti cover expertly drawn in kids markers, the little “Go A(narchy)!” logo imprinted on the back, like something you’d see scratched into a sophomore’s desk. Then, the bar set impossibly high on the first two tracks, audaciously titled "Ah" and "Biyah." An emoticon named (0) provides "space ethnic bboxing" according to the liner notes. But this isn't a beat-boxing album, it's more stripped and primitive than that -- this is "bboxing." Instead of creating an imaginary language as on Sigur Ros' ( ), (0) simply uses his voice as an instrument of raw precussive sound.

Knowing that listening to a super fired up beat boxer on nitrous coughing on hard consonants has about 30 seconds to be tolerable, Goa! pads their self titled release with “Ah,” a spacey introduction into what sounds like a future Marin county hypnosis session. Then, with the sentimentality of the first track wearing off, Goa! clunks abruptly into the second. This score to space warfare buzzes all around you, with (0) providing all of the endlessly playful biyah boun bown laser sound effects, pounds like a migraine, thinking about a bottle of aspirin, the first seeds of doubt bloom surprisingly soon. Five minutes in? Are these guys serious?

Although the tempo is frenzied and uneasy, after listening to this small machine of a recording there is the sense that everything has been thought through, which can be as much of a liability as a boon. The third track “Eyama” is drenched in space rock, which references the eerie horror show organs on the fourth, titled “Chika.” This is the most grating track and the album’s linear midpoint of no return, with (0) becoming so juiced the whole CD nearly derails. As an offset to the fourth’s lunacy, the fifth track “Wawa,” is coherently tense. It’s the crux of the album and the most interesting because (0) does not dominate by piercing every shard of music in its path. “Wawa” also makes use of a dreamy seaside field recording, sounding like an organic take on the opener. This obsessively written five-track paragraph would have worked by its own but for some reason Goa! decided to add two overlong jam sessions, souring the end of an otherwise sincere experiment. Sounding like Tom Waits or Jon Spencer at their most instrumentally self-indulgent, “Bibi” wanders around the wilderness for a hair under 13 minutes but with no velocity, as the song ends where it started. Whenever “Bibi” threatens to build into something else, it collapses under its own weight. The last track, “Ih,” squanders the nervous rhythm of a tense movie score sample by looping it endlessly so it doesn’t change until it’s swallowed up, thankfully, by the finale’s mashed noise.

Goa! could be anything from a short opera to a mistake. There are promising moments here, especially the drastic beat change midway through “Biyah” that asks to be expanded on but isn’t. For all of the bouncing around with instruments, there is life missing from this release. The chaos feels like the result of training, not introduced to lead somewhere but instead supplied by Goa! on demand for a quick post-1990s blast of fun while there’s still time.

By Noah Zimmerman

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