April 21, 2008 at 12:11 pm (band review) (, )


So, in celebration of the fact that I am to see Mogwai for the third time next month (they are playing, oh yes, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, on Londons South Bank – ) Tragically, I only managed to see them after they started playing a lot more quietly than when they started (i saw them in march 2006 at the Birstol academy – however, after seeing merzbow last night, maybe my hearing will thank me).  Yep, in the last few years, Mogwai have become more melodic, more thoughtful than anyone could even begin to imagine… surprisingly really considering the fact that Mr Beast, their last studio album, was a return to a more rockier approach than their previous two (Rock Action & Happy Songs for Happy People, their hilariously ironically titled album) though around the same time they released the soundtrack to the Zidane movie (Zidane: 21st century portrait), which almost acted as a companion piece to Mr Beast, like the post half of post rock.

It would be fair to say that Mogwai were one of the elder statesmen of the “post-rock” scene nowadays.   I was first aware of them in the mid 90’s when I read an article about them in select magazine…. though pretty much all I can remember is that they were wearing Kappa branded clothing, because they were sponsered by them.  Now, I was fairly unadventurous back in the day, and rather than checking them out, probably just bought another Oasis album instead (oh, what was I thinking!  Its not like they were the biggest band ever at the time or anything.  And im certainly not cool enough to listen to Mogwai now, let alone when i was 15).

However, their Slint (and Steve Reich) influenced tunes soon came to me (via the edmund fitzgerald) and so learnt to love them.  They do have quite a daunting back catalogue, 5 studio albums, 4 compilations, 2 soundtracks, eps… where on earth are you supposed to start?  Well, 10 rapid is a compilation of early singles, and while it is very good, I wouldnt say that it was very representative of Mogwais sound in general.  Young Team is certainly a tour de force of a debut, punching way above its weight (it was highly critically praised when it came out) and features Like Herod and Mogwai Fear Satan.   I also really like Summer…..

Come on Die Young (or CODY as people confusingly call it on the internet) was next, and no one liked it (this could be a lie) However, it was the first album that i heard by them and i was not blown away.   It does contain Christmas Steps, which is fantastic, and also a track called Kappa.  Ah….marketing 🙂  I do like it, but maybe not a great place to start.

Then, Rock Action & Happy Songs for Happy People, my two favourite Mogwai albums, which bought a certain amount of restraint to the mogwai sound.  Im not saying that their rock out bits arent great, but the lushness of these two albums is just too overpowering.  Its like a 90’s my bloody valentine.  I enjoy the quiet drone, the restrained noise that is fighting to get out.

Which is what Mr Beast does.  Starting with Auto rock, which does resemble the last two albums, you know you are in for a ride when Glasgow Mega Snake comes in.  ROCK!  You could say that Mr Beast succesfully combines their previous sounds, and i do like it a lot, but return more often to their previous two.

(and if you want some really riff tastic action, get the My Father My King EP.  20 minutes of riff basically.  and accidently???? just too long to be chart eligable. hmmmmm)

I also really like EP+6, which is a collection of eps from around the time of the first two albums, that is more of the more relaxed sound, but at the same time brings in loudness to the equation.  Its also great because it is really long, which minimises getting up to change cd effort.  sweet. (unofficial)


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