This article originally appeared on Noisey Australia.
Underground film maker, comic artist and musician Carlos Gonzalez, aka Russian Tsarlag, has returned with Unexplained American Goat, a new record of his unique lo-fi, droney folk and pop. Having released a car boot worth of cassette and vinyl records over his career, the Providence-based musician's last vinyl album was back in 2013 with Gagged In Boonesville on Not Not Fun.
Whereas other releases have drifted in and out of a blunted haze, Unexplained American Goat, released on Brooklyn label Wharf Cat Records, sees Gonzalez recording with a lot more clarity.
Made up of single-note guitar lines, bare vocals, simple drum-machine patterns and the occasional flourish of noise or keyboard melody, the eight songs on are a study in minimalist song craft. Listen to the song "Open Air," which, compared to previous Russian Tsarlag releases, almost sounds like a high end Beyonce production.
Noisey: "Open Air" is a really pretty song.
Carlos Gonzales: It's about a trip to a local drive-in that I took with a special person last year.
'Unexplained American Goat' is an interesting title. GOAT is often used as a sports acronym for 'Greatest Of All Time.'
The album is a collection of songs from three self released cassettes. The tapes are American Wipe Out, Unexplained Image, and Goat Man. The title is just a crude combination of those titles.
You came to Australia and New Zealand earlier this year. What was that experience like?
It was wonderful. We did a lot of camping and hiking. We played with some great bands like The Futurians, File Folder, Pumice, and the Breaking World Records family. Walking around a city like Christchurch at night, that looks so surreal after their earthquake five years ago, left a lot of strange images in my head.
What bands were you in while living in Bloomington?
Crotch Council, Bread Fangs, Hepatitis B Youth and DKG Sleep Trio
Why the moves from Tampa, to Bloomington and then Providence?
It's all just meeting people and feeling in touch with little communities. Tampa can be a pretty isolating place so going to these other places was just a way to see the other side.
Do you listen much to your back catalgoue?
No, I don't listen to too much or any of my early stuff. I don't hate it, but I guess I'd rather be listening to some of my friends' music or Royal Trux or something. I have a fond memory of a tape I released in 2010 called There's a Snake in My Cash Register. Maybe it holds up.
'Unexplained American Goat' is available Oct14 via Wharf Cat.
Catch Russian Tsarlag with Jeff Zagers and Justin Clifford Rhody at these shows:
Oct 7 - Knoxville, TN at Pilot Light
Oct 8 - Chattanooga at Barking Legs Theater
Oct 9 - Memphis at Spottswood
Oct 11- Kansas City at Night Blooms Darkroom and Book Store
Oct 12 - St. Louis at Kerr Foundation
Oct 13 - Milwaukee at Green Gallery
Oct 14 - Chicago at The Archer Beach Haus
Oct 15 - Detroit at TBA
Oct 16 - Pittsburgh at TBA
Oct 17 - Buffalo at BA
Oct 18 - Providence at Tommy's Place
Oct 20 - Far Rockaway at Red Light District
Oct 21 - Philadelphia at Heaven's Gate
Oct 22 - Baltimore at Floristree
Oct 23 - Chapel Hill at TBA
Oct 24 - Savannah at Sulphur Studios