Although described as ‘instrumental progressive rock’ in the press release, Goya adhere more closely to the instrumental art-rock excursions of mid-period sonic youth or early Mogwai than anything currently associated with the term progressive. Nonetheless, ‘Kathmandu’ is a fine, debut EP where bass tones surge with bowel-loosening urgency and guitars fizz with barely restrained rage. It’s been a while since instrumental music sounded so gloriously urgent, and it marks an impressive departure point for Goya who, if they can maintain the power of their music, are destined for wider audiences.
The EP kicks off with the thunderous and aptly titled ‘Collider’. Layered in arcing feedback and delivered with a subversive glee that evokes images of stages strewn with the debris of anarchic performance, ‘Collider’ is fast and furious, giving the listener an easy way in to an EP that steadfastly refuses to show its hand too early in the game. Once snared, Goya hit the listener with ‘Vanenatus’, a twelve-minute excursion in carefully constructed dynamics that runs the gamut from a Jeff Buckley referencing opening to coruscating waves of metallic guitar slamming against the listener as the bass wallows in a hellish underworld lit by sulphurous fires and sound-tracked by devil jamming on a big muff groove. As the track progresses, building on a quiet-loud axis that made ‘like Herod’ such a devastating listen, it’s clear that ‘Vanenatus’ is more representative of the malevolent intent at the core of Goya, and that ‘Collider’ was just the sneaky way to draw us in. Marginally shorter, ‘Ashoka’ (svelte at just seven minutes) emerges out of a haze of snarky feedback to deal in a darker, sludgier sound than that which has gone before. Elements of Sabbath wash through the mix here, the band loosely jamming around a demonically heavy central riff, before the title track brings the EP to a dramatic close. Striking a quieter, more reflective tone, ‘Kathmandu’ showcases a different side to the band, where savagery is replaced by quiet contemplation. Building to an epic finale that feels earned after the pastoral beauty of the first half of the track, Goya leave the audience thoroughly bludgeoned and not a little satisfied.
‘Kathmandu’ is an EP that shows great promise. The question now is whether Goya can stretch the concept over a full-length. Bands such as Mogwai made the transition by infusing light and shade, occasional snatches of vocal and, latterly, electronica. In doing so, they carved new avenues for instrumental post-rock. The potential for a similar growth is here in Goya’s debut outing, and there’s no questioning the visceral thrill of the band’s punkish whiteouts, as they hammer their instruments into so much matchwood. In the meantime, we have this excellent, and thoroughly recommended, first EP to treasure. Well worth checking out. 8