There’s a good chance anyone reading is already familiar with Mogwai, but just in case: they are probably the kings of the post-rock genre, are from Glasgow, and have been going at it since 1995, releasing roughly a billion (okay, 9 original LP’s) albums in that time. Each of their last few albums are exceptional pieces of work and interesting in their own way, as I remembered while I was going back through the four immediately preceding the new release, Atomic; I came up with the idea for writing a bit on Mogwai because I realised I had never listened to Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2011), an album which has been pushed to me a lot and which some people think is their best. However, if I was to pick my favourite album, it would be 2006’s Mr. Beast, as although it tails a bit at the end, the starting two tracks are among the more potent openings to an album, and the first six tracks in general are still some of their very best, and most emotive, work to date.
Having said that though, if I was to point someone at a record to get an introduction to Mogwai from scratch, it would be this one. Sure, it’s only six tracks long and three of them are remixes, but it’s one of the most accessible records they have ever produced, while still being varied enough to give a broad spectrum overview of a band who have been going for a long time. Two of Mogwai’s big calling cards are heavy distortion and dynamic contrast, and both of those are in full effect here, but there’s also some rare vocals (and enjoyable ones as well), as well as some nice lighter drifts for variety. Three tracks are new ones, and three are remixes of tracks from Rave Tapes. As it happens, the remixes are all by top quality producers: Blanck Mass is a really interesting side project by Benjamin John Power, and I love Pye Corner Audio (Martin Jenkins). As for Nils Frahm, well, he has some serious form with the piano, you understand.
‘Teenage Exorcists’ was the single, and it remains the song most resembling a conventional single Mogwai have ever produced. It’s a really fun song, and it’s a bouncy and enjoyable opening. Next up the sombre sounding ‘History Day’, with its laid back groove and cinematic peeling guitar providing and relaxing imagination fuel. I’m always taken for a ride over landscapes past when I hear it. ‘HMP Shaun William Ryder’, which by the way is a top name for a prison, starts off subdued but builds into a sparkling finale, resplendent with the simmering guitars that are a band trademark, finishing with a fake out and then fade, which i guess is as fitting a tribute to SWR as there is. ‘Re-Remurdered (Blanck Mass remix)’ is an industrial, almost robotic ride into the future. It ebbs and flows wonderfully, and has a fantastic sense of movement and pace. Then there’s an atmospheric, spacious jaunt into light ambience with ‘No Medicine For Regret (Pye Corner Audio remix)’, which meanders around attractively inside the eardrums, with its extended electronic musings providing a neat take on an already good track. And finally, ‘The Lord Is Out Of Control’ (Nils Frahm remix)’ is my favourite track on the EP, as Frahm proves that dynamics and a beautiful piano rendition of a lovely tune can be among the most powerful of musical tools.
All in all, it’s a fantastic and varied collection of songs, and at around half an hour, is still weighty enough to give a good and inclusive introduction. If you haven’t heard it, and you like all aspects of instrumental (I know there are vocals, but the vast majority is without) music then you really should do yourself a favour and see if you can track it down on your favourite video sharing website. If not, well, it’s a short way to get an accessible in with a band and expand your musical horizons. I’ve enjoyed, going back through it and experiencing it again, and I’m pretty hype for listening to the new album now.