Frantic seesaw brass stabs and delay pedal vapour trails. Eagles riding the thermals. A call and response between a flute and a girl gang. Time lapse through the seasons in Yosemite Park. A ray gun synth and a steel drum. It's been nearly three years since we've heard their familiar yet unlikely 3 minute patchwork masterpieces that turn the sonically unexpected into the most catchy and commanding songs you'll hear all year. On January 31st, The Go! Team will return with Rolling Blackouts, the newest instalment in their esteemed catalogue of adventure in audio.
The Go! Team bust onto the scene in 2004 with their universally praised debut, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, a homebrewed collage of meticulously chosen samples and trashy live instruments assembled brilliantly by Go! Team founder Ian Parton. It somehow found its way from the bedroom to international acclaim, casually picking up a Mercury nomination along the way. The follow up, 2007's Proof of Youth, was the first album recorded with all six Go! Team members (plus a guest appearance from Chuck D, amongst others) and saw the band embark on a festival crushing two year world tour that wowed fans and critics alike from Seoul to Sydney to Sao Paolo. And some other places not starting with an S.
And now, following a brief rest comes album three. Whereas previously The Go! Team used samples as the launch pad for their songwriting, this time the bulk of the songs on Rolling Blackouts see the process reversed. Starting life on a battered acoustic and midi drums and topped off with Ian Parton's MC Teenwolf alter ego voicing out the lyrics (we'll have to play you those versions some time), the tracks were slowly fleshed out over time, a process which meant finding the right sample, the right instrument, even the right voice to bring to life the music as Ian had in his mind. So Rolling Blackouts ups the vocal quotient, with special help from Satomi Matsuzaki from Deerhoof, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast who chips in on a couple for tracks, plus Dominique Young Unique, the hotly tipped Tampa based rapper and Bordeaux's bedroom balladeer, Lispector. Not forgetting, of course, Ninja, The Go! Team's unstoppable MC who is back in full force.
Rolling Blackouts is epic and bratty, subtle and sweet. From the two-minute opening Ninja led slammer of "T.O.R.N.A.D.O.", to the album's title track featuring Bethany Best Coast and Piano Magic’s Angèle David-Guillou, an all female feedback-swept white noise sand storm answer to "Some Velvet Morning", it's all restless and relentless energy. Bethany also lends vocals to "Buy Nothing Day," a hyper girls-in-the-garage jangle, while Dominique Young Unique dominates the psych hip-hop call and response of "Voice Yr Choice" and goes tag team on the string-led space race of “Apollo Throwdown”. Satomi leads the way on “Secretary Song” evoking an asymmetrical Tokyo office with elevators opening on the beat, typing in time and phones ringing in rhythm. "The Running Range" is a fuzz-bass driven Morricone-esque gospel song recorded in a South London church and with "Ready To Go Steady" the Team deliver their first straight ahead love song, a nimble pocket rocket symphony voiced by Lispector.
So, for this widescreen meets C-90 cassette lofi epic, The Go! Team have upped their own ante, giving us a record that is by turns their most refined, most kick ass, most melodic and most effortlessly effusive record yet.
The Go! Team is: Ian Parton (production, guitars, drums, piano, harmonica, glockenspiel), Ninja (vocals), Chi Fukami Taylor (drums), Sam Dook (banjo, guitars, drums), Jamie Bell (bass, noise effects, glockenspiel), Kaori Tsuchida (vocals, guitars, keyboards, recorders, glockenspiels).
2. Secretary Song
3. Apollo Throwdown
4. Ready to Go Steady
5. Bust-Out Brigade
6. Buy Nothing Day
7. Super Triangle
8. Voice Yr Choice
9. Yosamite Theme
10. The Running Range
11. Lazy Poltergeist
12. Rolling Blackouts
13. Black Like 8 Track