The latest Go! Team album, The Scene Between, is a gorgeous melange of chiming samples and propulsive instrumentation. Songwriter Ian Parton stitches together non-sequitur sounds seamlessly, and the results are enough to make your knees shaky — look no further than the blown-out carnival fun of “Blowtorch” and the spiraling, foreign spice-market rush of the title track. But patchwork records like this always raise questions about scrap materials: What would happen if the components were arranged just a tad differently? Parton has answered that question by creating an alternate, cassette-only mix of the album that leaves the snipped sounds raw, unpolished, and bashing into each other like clumsy peewee football players. Between The Scene Between is still a heck of a listen, and though it’s clunkier, it shimmers with the same radiance found on the album. If anything, this alternate cut works remarkably well as a weird, haphazard party mix to spin for your art-school compadres. The project comes free with any purchase of The Scene Between from indie record stores or the Go! Team’s website, but it hasn’t been online until now. Listen to both sides of the tape, and read an exclusive track-by-track commentary from Parton below.
what d’you say
The opening track is an aching little California drone pop song about someone who wants to start over: “all the summers i never had well i’m making up for it, all the chances i never grab but i’m making up for it now…” I went on a holiday up the Pacific coast Highway in a Winnebago a while back and for some reason i keep imagining that. It’s all lenseflare crash zooms, abandoned theme parks and spinning into waves. I think more than the first three Go! Team albums I wanted this one to have more of a coherent feel – I suppose the best way I could describe that feel is sun damaged. I liked the idea of the whole album opening with a bottle of soda being opened as it instantly puts a picture in your mind ”
the scene between
I normally think of music in pictures and with the title track I kept imagining aerial fly-bys – looking down on landscapes – rivers and forests, choirs singing on top of mountains. But to me there’s a bit of a menacing undertone to it too maybe a kind of Waco cult type thing and a definite schizo thing between the verse and the chorus. Like its flipping from the country to the city. I always like that tension between nice and nasty.
waking the jet stream
I like the way this one’s half way between happy and sad – it’s loosely about the repetition of everyday life and kinda anti ratrace “everyone on the morning train, are they feeling it too” the opening harmonix were recorded on a dictaphone. I’ve been digging that kind of answer machine sound…
rolodex the seasons
Every Go! Team record has an interlude song like this, like ‘super triangle’ or ‘my world’. With this one I was imagining marshmallows over campfires, a time-lapse of a year in a national park. Ithink I’ve always been inspired by those little films in Sesame Street which would teach you about things: hibernation, a visit to a peanut butter factory….this is my version.
Like all Go! Team songs I never write it in one go – it always comes from sticking together 4 or 5 separate ideas which I’ve hoarded away for ages. I write melodies just with an acoustic guitar but when it came to the recording I had the idea of building this one from chords from loads of different sources, so say the G chord was a one second sample from one song, the D chord from totally different kind of song and it went on – the process of layering all these turned it into a wall of sound. Combined with vocals from Sudden Ensemble and Vinyl Tiger’s singer Doreen Kirchner it became this kinda bratty, super melodic thing.
did you know
This one features a chinese girl called Atom who plays drums in a Beijing band called Hedgehog. The repeating three syllables in the chorus instantly suggested the words “did you know” to me – so then it became clear the song would be about someone confessing something, “did you know i’m the treasure you can’t find?”, and for some reason I imagined that happening on the telephone. I knew that I wanted to have someone singing with an accent to give it more of a Mo Tucker feel and make sure it wasn’t over sung and too sentimental. I always love things that border on amateurishness.
gaffa tape bikini
This is an idea from a 20 year old cassette i rediscovered recently – it was made on a really dodgy 80’s sampling keyboard in about 1992 and the cassette copy i worked from was a 3rd generation copy so it sounds really distorted and weird. I love interlude songs and would happily make an album just full of 1 minute songs – I’ve always been interested in the idea of channel hopping.
catch me on the rebound
This is probably the poppiest song on the album – I was thinking of it as a riot grrl meets Motown song. I always have mixed feelings about catchiness – I’m always aware that the Go! team is a balancing act and that things could tip over into sickliness – so i’m always trying to pull it back from that.
the floating felt tip
A while back I ordered about 10 vhs’s of 70’s and 80’s american commercials off ebay and this was a song on one of them that jumped out at me – I added extra distortion and slowed it down so the singer sounds older. VHS wobble and a kind of cable access feel is a kind of aesthetic theme to the record.
her last wave
This songs about the final words of a female surfer who drowns at sea “turning, turning me over and over again” – I suppose its the nearest a Go! Team song has come to shoegaze but I like to think there’s always something Go! Teamy that flows through everything. The Go! Team sound is pretty broad – from marching bands songs to Wichita Lineman style instrumentals but hopefully there’s something recognisable in all of it.
the art of getting by
I was imagining this song almost as a new genre: space gospel. I like the idea of those 2 things combining – I had the idea of making the song about the Heaven’s Gate cult. They were a cult in the late nineties who believed they would rise up to a spacecraft that was following a comet. They all committed suicide as a group. This song could almost be their anthem as they are ascending to space. Its jubilant and triumphant but as soon as you start to think of it in this way it adds a strange dimension to the song.
reason left to destroy
This album is more lyrical and deals more in themes than other Go! Team records which were more slogan-y. This last track is inspired by the Hitchcock film ‘The Birds’. I visited Bodega Bay where they filmed it and it has a strange foggy feel. I liked the idea of the song being about someone bringing trouble with them to a small town – the opening lines a direct reference to the film: “taking the cage over to bodega bay..”
The Scene Between is out now via Memphis Industries. Buy it here and receive the alternate version on cassette.