AMN Reviews: GOATFACE! – Akhenaten Bazucas (2022; Astral Spirits)

Featuring two members of Rob Mazurek’s Sao Paolo Underground, GOATFACE! is a Brazilian free-improv quintet with a similar overarching sound – heady long-form jams with emphasis on keyboards, reeds, and percussion. To that point, most of the group takes on multi-instrumental roles with Guilherme Granado on keyboards, synthesizers, electronics, and percussion, Leandro Archela on keyboards, synthesizers, on percussion, Thomas Rohrer on soprano saxophone, rabeca, futes, objects, and percussion, Rogerio Martins on bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, and percussion, as well as Ricardo Pereira on percussion.

The tracks include dense rhythmic structures that tend to repeat and stick around long enough to establish a groove of sorts. Atop this, the “leads” are more outside, using unconventional phrasing and slipping into and out of extended techniques. In contrast, some passages are open-ended sound art – spontaneously-generated textural walls of sound. Probably due to the choice of instruments, Akhenaten Bazucas has a retro feel, evoking Sun Ra while being more overtly psychedelic. Despite the use of electronics, the album maintains a gritty, organic nature.

The result is a compelling modern take on the experimental fusion of 50 years ago that pushes the envelope while exhibiting a listenable charm. Highly recommended.