The Go! Team have always been cheerleaders for a better world – an outpouring of collective joy in the face of small-mindedness and dismal careerism. They rejoice in the unifying urges and the chance encounters between cultures that lead to something new. They’re a band who still have faith in the power of music to make things better. Now more than ever, we need The Go! Team.
The Go! Team is the brainchild of one man, Brighton-based melody obsessive Ian Parton. But its membership has never been exclusive: at one time or another, The Go! Team has included on its squad-sheet everyone from Deerhoof to Chuck D to a legion of undiscovered Soundcloud singers. Unlike the group’s previous album, 2015’s The Scene Between, Ian began work on their fifth album SEMICIRCLE with the vital input of current live players Simone Odaranile (drums) and Angela ‘Maki’ Won-Yin Mak (vocals), plus original Team members Sam Dook (guitar) and Ninja (irrepressible rapping).
In his head was the idea of a school marching band gone rogue, chucking away their sheet music to blast out Northern soul stompers or Japanese indie-pop swooners or old-school hip-hop jams. Yet his extensive sample library could only take him so far. In order to fully realise his vision he knew he had to reach out, to entice a group of unlikely new collaborators into The Go! Team fold.
So Ian made a pilgrimage to Detroit – city of Motown and The Stooges, of musical (and actual) revolution – where he hooked up with The Detroit Youth Choir. In keeping with the album’s “marching band” theme, Ian stacked up sousaphones, glockenspiels and steel drums, mic’ing them all from a distance to recreate that gymnasium sound. The effect is a kaleidoscopic cacophony, almost as if the sound itself is bent and refracted in the metallic curves of a trumpet, comforting and intoxicating at the same time.
Although SEMICIRCLE isn’t bogged down in polemical responses to the issues of the day, there are still some valuable life lessons to be gleaned. Ian is keen to emphasise that the vibrant utopia he and his cohorts have conjured up on their fifth album is not an escapist fantasy but a potentially achievable goal. “It’s about reminding yourself of the good things in life,” says Ian. “We don’t want to be dumbly optimistic and say, ‘Hey, isn’t everything great!’ but there’s something to be said for just getting on with it, for getting organised and not letting the fuckers get you down. Party for your right to fight!”