Brighton, U.K. electro-meets-indie rock ensemble The Go! Team generated instant attention with 2004’s debut Thunder, Lighting, Strike, an expertly choreographed collage of sample bombs and live recordings. Led by cut-n-paste maestro Ian Parton, The Go! Team’s poly-cultural troupe furthered its mark with 2007’s buoyant Proof of Youth. Now Parton has constructed RollingBlackouts, a 13-track halfway house between hi- and lo-fi, using panning and processing to contrast light and shade and allow for a compelling, more consumable listening session.
“We proved we’re anti-production, so we can try and get a bit more posh on this record,” Parton says, laughing. “Overload, excessiveness…that was always an aesthetic choice. But on this record, we eased back on the harshness, and got a wider spectrum with a more solid, chunky bottom end, while rounded on the top as well.”
The Go! Team hasn’t forsaken handmade for £1,000-a-day studio clarity. Within Pro Tools, Parton collected breakbeats nicked from records, acoustic guitar licks, and harmonies sung into phones, as well as SampleTank SampleTron mellotron and Vienna Symphonic Library brass arrangements, which he then assembled into guide tracks that he took to the band.
The sextet gathered in Brighton Electric studios to track live bass, drums, guitar, and brass, using creative miking, re-amping, and detuning to establish a cavernous, crunchy sound. Mics placed down corridors and set against boundaries were blended, as was a stereo pair of lowlevel Grundig Bakelite 1950s station announcer microphones, for a solid drums foundation. Next, tracks went to Parton’s home studio, where additional guitars, vocals, and instrumentation (including glockenspiel, banjo, harmonica, autoharp, and handclaps) were captured and masked to layer with up to 30 samples per song.
Key effects–according to Parton’s brother Gareth, who shared album mixing duties with Sam Williams at the Fortress, London, and Temple Sound, Oxford–included Alan Smart compressors, GML EQ, UA 1176 limiter, Valley People Dyna-mite limiter/expanders, Culture Vulture valve distortion units, and a Tascam 4-track Portastudio’s intentionally overloaded mic pres for furry distortion, and wow and flutter on certain stems. As a final thickening agent, certain songs were dumped to Studer A710 cassette tape recorder, adding a tangibly tighter bottom end and a shaved high extension. The overriding focus was on tonal excitement, just with a less unrelenting dynamic slam.
“I like the idea of movement with a bit of menace to it. People think of us as a party band, but it’s always been action music to me...mining for forgotten sounds, salvaging them, and re-contextualizing them by placing different eras and genres against one another,” says Parton. Tony Ware