The Brighton-based melody-obsessed Team leader Ian Parton envisioned a marching band going rogue and chucking away their sheet music to blast out Northern soul stompers, Japanese indie-pop swooners and old-school hip hop jams. But his extensive sample library could only take him so far. So he made a pilgrimage to Detroit - city of Motown, The Stooges, of musical (and actual) revolution - where he hooked up with The Detroit Youth Choir.
Parton: “With "Semicircle Song" I was trying to take the technicolour feel of a marching band into a more psychedelic place, reclaiming that sound from patriotic or sporty bullshit and harnessing its toughness and power. Brass which takes your head off, bouncy xylophones, offbeat handclaps and toms hopping in the gaps - I hoped it would be recognisably The Go! Team but unlike any song we’d done before.
"Something more about the space between the notes. But when the notes hit, you make them count. Vocals were laid down by a bunch of teenagers in Detroit, which is a musical mecca for me. In the middle 8 I thought it would add a kinda interstellar cheekiness if they each introduced themselves, and their star sign.”
Unlike the group’s 2015 The Scene Between - which was essentially a solo project that followed the dissolution of the previous Go! Team line-up - SEMICIRCLE finds Parton collaborating with current live players Simone Odaranile (drums) and Angela ‘Maki’ Won-Yin Mak (vocals), as well as two original members, guitarist Sam Dook and rapper Ninja. Annelotte de Graaf (aka Amber Arcades), previous collaborator Julie Margat (aka Lispector), and a crew of unexpected musicians feature throughout.
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.
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,” he says. “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!”