Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Artist Of The Day: Mogwai

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fans of Muzik Dizcovery, members of the proletariat, British loyalists, haters to the post-rock name, and the rest of you, we all have differences in opinions throughout our individual walks of life. One thing we can all agree to, though, is that 2012 has been, and continues to be, a year of change. With our (talking United States here, so Canadian / British / other worldly regions please read on) political regime potentially undergoing our tetrannual tradition this November, a scare incurred on how the free world is openly receiving information through the Internet, and some gripe about some 5,000-year-old prediction about the end of humanity, things like this can be kind of scary to think about. Things we perceive to be as constant are ever undergoing small changes, and eventually become things that we don't understand, or fear. Such is the case with the musical style of Mogwai, and as I've reviewed Mogwai before, I wanted to discuss my opinions about the band whose music I've come to hold so dear.

Mogwai had humble beginnings in Glasgow, Scotland. Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchson, and Martin Bulloch came together to form the start of Mogwai in 1995. After the release of their first two albums, Mogwai Young Team and Come On Die Young, the band really began to work towards the spacious, "post-rock" sound that they became known for (although to this day, they despise the term). With Rock Action, the band started really pushing their name out, and the subsequent album, Happy Songs for Happy People, was their first album to garner some album sales in the US, which was impressive for a little post-rock band from Glasgow.

Now, they're a huge band with a constantly changing sound. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was a major progression from the previous album, The Hawk Is Howling, which again, was a progression from Mr. Beast. But the Earth Division EP of last year was the most radically different thing Mogwai has ever done, and the new sound is a drastic shift from Hardcore. It really begs the question, "Where is Braithwaite taking Mogwai, and will the fans be able to follow?" But then, one remembers that Mogwai isn't really post-rock. No, the shrugging off of the term somewhat lessens the intensity of the approach the listener must take when thinking about Mogwai's music. Post-rock implies a conscious recognition of what one is doing all of the time. When the band creates music, they go with where the music takes them. And that's what sets Mogwai apart from a slough of other instrumental bands competing for your attention, gentle reader.

Is Mogwai changing? Yes. Is it a bad thing? It depends. Should you still listen to them? Absolutely. Many things we had once thought were concrete are now no more solid than the slowly dissipating polar ice caps, or the sweet, fading echoes of synthesizers ringing softly in my Audio Technica cans at 4 a.m. The one thing we can do, reader, is treasure what we have, and look forward to what will come. Mogwai may change, but  embracing the change and the artistic integrity of the band is what's important, just as embracing what may come politically, socially, or psychologically. If you're ready for what may come, nothing will surprise you. You'll be ready for anything and everything. You'll be fine.


Mr. Beast (2006)
This album is sophistication. It's classy. It's glitzy. And yet, it's somehow so relevant and humble at the same time that it really deserves mention. Mr. Beast is what Martin Bulloch said was "probably Mogwai's best album since Young Team." I have to agree. It's a really fantastic album, with a lot to love, from opener "Auto Rock," heavy hitter "Glasgow Mega-Snake," art-rock classic "Friend of the Night" and incredible masterpiece "I Chose Horses." This album spotlights on a lot of what Mogwai used to be, with powerful choruses and a bit of a larger focus on electronic instruments. Mr. Beast is a fine summation of why I love Mogwai's music, and while it may not be the most highly recommended or remembered of albums, it definitely deserves a listen. Or four. Or seven. Thousand.

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