rewind: Proof of Youth - The Go! Team
words: Matt Latham
I’m putting this out there now: this is covering the special edition because "Milk Crisis" is one of the best songs of all time. There’s no way I can’t mention that in an article about The Go! Team. That song is brilliant - even the versions that have both English and Japanese lyrics. It's just so catchy and instant. Plus it has a lot of stuff going on and makes the erratic feel cohesive.
Bringing together genres and sounds and samples together is what The Go! Team does well. In doing a bit of research, Google places the group in the genre Plunderphonics. I kinda love that. It makes perfect sense.
The band was originally a one man project (Ian Parton) that combined a huge amount of samples of funk and soul with indie-pop and all sorts of double-dutch chants. When the debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike was released to wide acclaim, Parton recruited a live band to play this live. When the sequel album came around - Parton used the band to record elements alongside his own sampling and remixing resulting in Proof Of Youth.
Never afraid to overload a listener, the album opens with "Grip Like a Vice", a track that remixes several songs, managing to get a whole song from a freestyle in a BBC 80s hip-hop documentary. It sets the tone of what you’re going to get for the rest of the listening. But throughout all this, the familiar recurring elements of the band come in, with rapper Ninja providing a good chunk of the rap verses, and Kaori Tsuchida’s voice providing some of the choruses. Public Enemy’s Chuck D also shows up in the lovingly chaotic "Flashlight Fight".
Playground chants and acappella choruses are mixed in with distorted guitars, bells, brass, wind instruments, percussion. There’s a great upbeat feeling throughout that’s combined with melodic sing-along choruses.
Experimentation and technical prowess is the aim here - with the lyrical substance taking a back seat. But the attraction of The Go! Team is more about how things are performed rather than what's being performed. The vocals are deliberately mixed in closer to the volume to the music rather than being the stand-out focal point. Especially with this being the first album with a full band, it feels as if Parton is trying to allow everyone a chance to shine at once.
The Go! Team have always been an experiment in music creation and manipulation. Never boring and constantly evolving. Proof of Youth is an album that you can listen to to make you smile