The Go! Team prove their longevity with Semicircle

SemicircleIan Parton, brave leader of The Go! Team (which has essentially become him and whoever he happens to be collaborating with at the time), has declared that the group's fifth record Semicircle is not about escapism. "It’s about just getting on with it, for getting organised and not letting the fuckers get you down," he explains, following this rather brilliantly with, "Party for your right to fight."

Well, who are we to argue with such an edict? Except for one thing – the first word that comes to mind here is escapism. We’ll meet half way though – how about we say it’s the sort of escapism you find in life – dancing around in the sunshine, being happily drunk with your best friends, smiling at someone, as opposed to the rather tawdrier conception of escapism as sitting down and masturbating frenetically over a glazed-eyed Game of Thrones marathon, only pausing to collect a Domino’s pizza from your cracked door. Escaping into life, rather than away from it.

Parton has been putting out records steadily since the aforementioned debut, none of which it can be argued reached the dizzy heights of that first spliced-together sample monster, though all have been credits to the group/Parton’s name. Semicircle is not quite a return to form, therefore; a more accurate description would be a that it’s a wonderful realisation of that intrinsic Go! Team-ness that made the first record unlike really anything you’d heard before.

Not that sample-merchantry was anything new even back then, but that bombastic, joyful, sensitive combination, pleasingly devoid of a lot of the macho my-sample-is-better-than-yours dick swinging that the medium can encourage was a great antidote, in 2004, to frowning man-children in leather jackets; as Semicircle is a great antidote to a po-faced, algorithmic modern musical landscape.

This record is uncynical joy – music for the love of music because music is joy. Opener and single "All the Way Live" instantly hammers home you’re listening to The Go! Team, hitting you with a barrage of trumpets, effervescent basslines, bouncing drums and a rap lifted from an early 80s Chicago school recording.  This very much sets the tone for the rest of the album. "Chicos Radical Decade" sounds like a superhero theme for Captain Everything is Going be Alright; "Getting Back Up", with its brass brand refrain, makes you want to skip down the road like you’re in one of those slow-motion block party 90s R’n’B videos; single "Semicircle Song" has the beautiful feeling of the last song of that all-too-hard to recapture perfect night out.

Despite the robust quality of the music there’s also something a bit more delicate at its core. It’s dominated, as in previous Go! Team records, by powerful but unaggressive female voices – a mix that somehow says conveys the feeling that it’s okay to be sensitive and still want to have a good time. These voices are frequently in the multiple too, giving it that extra vibe of collectivity. It is, for want of a better word, empowering.

There are a couple of moments where the formula threatens to grate (the Morse code of "May Day", the relentless rhythmic battering of "Hey!"), but the nature of the record is you say whatever, brush yourself off and carry on to the next track. For some, cynicism may present an obstacle, but to the cynical, Dr Werewolf prescribes 10ccs of the feel-good music. Just let it do its thing.

Release: 19th January 2018, Memphis Industries

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