Sunday, August 28, 2011

Album Review: Mogwai - Earth Division EP

As a few of you may have remembered from before, I posted some news about Mogwai's Earth Division EP, and how excited I was about it. When I finally got my hands on it, I popped it right in, felt different. Very different. Good different. When Stuart Braithwaite and the rest of Mogwai say they want to escape their label of post-rock, they're able to achieve it with this EP. Much of Earth Division focuses a lot less on the whole soundscape and multi-layered construction of songs, and concentrates on the instrumentation and the music.

The opener on the EP is a great example of such. The composition is simple, yet elegant, and the only instruments are a piano accompanied by a string quartet, at most. However, the song's recurrent, eerie feel permeates throughout, with beautiful, smooth chord conversion, and a haunting tale is told by the piano, saying much without really saying anything at all. The song really shows how Mogwai's compositional value doesn't lie only with extensive vamping in ten minute songs or a high note count, but the quality and orchestration of each song.

The closer shares a similar orchestration, with only a guitar or two added, and again tells a dramatic story without saying much at all. As the guitar sets up a theme of two-note minor chords, the piano and strings begin to unravel a melancholy tale of loss, with emotional content flooding out of the slowly progressing song with every second. The piano and guitar settle into a similar pattern, melody and harmony (with some comping) arm in arm, relating the same tales as the strings develop and finally settle into the same pattern, setting up a feeling of woe that is simply boundless, which remains long after the resounding final note.

Earth Division feels like what I should have expected after Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will. The band really just needed something a little less, in order to compliment the album, which had a lot of good, rock-oriented songs, but was lacking some of the beauty of songs like "Thank You Space Expert" off of The Hawk Is Howling. I had no idea what was coming, but it seems only like a natural progression, and I think Earth Division is a fantastic change of pace after the full-length in February. It clearly displays the talent of the band, and even a bit of a hearkening to songs like "Punk Rock", but definitely shows how far the band has come.

The EP comes out September 12th on Rock Action and September 13th on Sub Pop.

Check out the opener on the EP here, and be sure to keep up with the band here.

Track Listing:
1) Get to France
2) Hounds of Winter
3) Drunk and Crazy
4) Does This Always Happen?

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