Lo-fi blues, a harmonica, and song titles that outline some sort of ambiguous mating call to whoever, round out Take Off Your Clothes, the debut record of Belgian bluesmen duo, The Goon Mat and Lord Benardo. Not newcomers to the game, they used to kick around Europe as a trio (Stinky Lou and The Goon Mat and Lord Benardo being their former unit) barnstorming to the vagrants, scumbags, hipster trash, and anyone else within earshot.
Take Off Your Clothes is the first LP incarnate of theirs for tastemaker label, Voodoo Rhythm Records, after releasing a 7” on VR in 2014. It has 11 tracks that demonstrate and prove their aptitude and appreciation for the roots music but injects some hard-edged boogie to get a room moving and makes for a nice striptease soundtrack. As a duo, their music isn’t as experimental and high energy as their trio effort (Stinky Lou left to pursue a life as a bar owner) but more straightforward blues boogie. The Goon Mat (aka Mathias Dalle) upholds the rhythm job with his simultaneous fingerpicking/strumming in line with playing percussion while Lord Benardo (aka Fabian Bennardo) provides the dynamics with his harmonica skills. There’s no flamboyance in the songwriting, it’s very straightforward and focused. If you dig R.L Burnside, you’ll dig these two.
Garage rock influenced electric-delta blues is what’s going on here. The raunchy go-go and strip music beat prevail in the “Dance with Me” and the foggy sounding title track. The track “Tried” elicits a gothic Western movie atmosphere with Benardo’s eerie and desolate sounding harmonica playing over the haunting finger chords from Goon Mat. Choice cut on this one is “Get Down with You” for its tight and weary verse groove being driven via a muffled heartbeat-like kick drum rhythm. It’s a track that demonstrates the natural synergy Lord Benardo and The Goon Mat have with each other and why they’re a great collaboration.
Their foundations and roots influence are obvious in the kick off “Because of You” and “Tonight Is the Night” with the two tracks steeped heavy in something that sounds a cross between a Goner Records-ish Junior Kimbrough. “Conception of the Blues”, the way this song plays out you get the feeling that there is a Big Bang meaning that was intentionally written. This track holds a steady rhythm that grows more violent and cacophonous as the song progresses and climaxes into a spar between the intense open chords from Goon Mat and the harmonica solos of Benardo until…..silence.
Order a copy for yourself through the (Voodoo Rhythm shop) and prepare to get naked and get down upon first play.
Take Off Your Clothes Track Listing:
01. Because of You
02. Get Down with You
03. Conception of the Blues
04. Tonight Is the Night
05. Take off Your Clothes
07. Dance with Me
08. Lille Girl
10. Show Me the Way
11. Voodoo Got Me
Run Time: 33:29
Release Date: January 5, 2018
Check out the single “Get Down With You” right here.