The Go! Team: Thunder Lightning Strike
Have I mentioned how smart my husband is? He discovered this band (and others) six months before anyone else in North America. Thunder Lightning Strike has been in heavy rotation in the G household since last December. Unlike so much of modern music of all genres, the Go! Team is fun. You couldn't pack more joyous energy and happiness into a song than Ian Parsons managed to cram into his basement symphonies all by his lonesome.
That's the amazing part - he created these masterpieces purely from samples, with the only live component being his own harmonica harmonies.
In fact, he used so many samples, from so many sources, that the album will probably never see a North American release. In the UK, they're not so fussed about copyright law. They're not constantly in search of reasons to launch lawsuits. Parsons never got any clearance from anyone to use the samples. It didn't occur to him to bother.
So how do you take it on tour?
Assemble a crack team of multi-instrumentalists from around the world, that's how.
Two drummers (one of whom also plays recorder and various keyboards), bassist, guitar and banjo player, two keyboards, harmonica, deejay and emcee were all jockeying for stage space at a super-crowded show at Lee's Palace last night that had been sold out for months.
They could have used more people on stage, had there been room - a horn section for sure. The sound is so rich with disparate elements that it couldn't have been written before sampling was a possibility - the mix of instruments and genres is a pure twenty-first century invention.
Despite the alarming level of humidity, the on-stage energy spread throughout the jumping and fist-pumping audience, all of whom seemed to have memorised the unreleased-here album. Hmm. (We don't have to feel guilty, as I bought the CD - "sure to be a collectors' item" according to Now Magazine - months ago as an import.) I don't think I've ever seen people go crazy for the recorder before. Or sleighbells.
Part of the impetus was the relentless energy of frontwoman Ninja (and part of her inspiration was the camera team shotting for a DVD. Fists in the air or else!), and here amazing ability to recreate the sound of different sampled voices, switching from soul singer to machine-gun-paced rap in a heartbeat.
The transformation to live band (and presence of Ninja) results in a much more vocal sound - numerous songs that were instrumental on the album had lyrics, although some stayed more true to the originals. After all, you can't bring an emcee on tour and expect her to be quiet on ten out of twelve numbers.
We were trying not to get too excited pre-show, not knowing what to expect. But the Go! Team surpassed all expectations.
The Go! Team are currently touring North America, and theoretically the album might be released here one day. For more information, check out their website. Wednesday's concert was recorded by CBC Radio3 for broadcast at a later date.
For more reviews, please check the archives.
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