Where To Start With…Mogwai
Post-rock, art rock, shoegaze even…call them what you will, but since forming in Glasgow in 1995, Mogwai have been making unique – and largely instrumental – music for the best part of two decades now. In that time they’ve released seven studio albums, eleven EPs (including remix compilations) and two live albums, as well as soundtracks for documentary Zidane: A 21st Centruy Portrait, French TV series Les Revenants and Darren Aronofsky’s film The Fountain, along with Clint Mansell.
Their eighth studio album, Rave Tapes, is released on January 20th, and sees the band working with producer Paul Savage for the first time since their 1997 debut, Mogwai Young Team.
For new initiates to the band, here are five of the best moments in their long career to get you started:
‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ (from Mogwai Young Team)
The closing song on their 1997 debut, this track weighs in at a hefty 16 minutes 20 seconds, but as an introduction to the band’s sound you couldn’t ask for much more. It has the ‘quiet/loud’ dynamic that has become a part of their trademark, and with its droning, hypnotic basslines and epic, tortured-sounding guitars, as well as the familiar absence of lyrics, it offers a good indication of what Mogwai are all about.
'I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead' (from The Hawk is Howling)
The opening salvo from 2008’s The Hawk is Howling, this piano-led track slowly swells from delicate, mournful chord changes to full-blown wall of sound in a little over six and a half minutes, complete with wailing guitars, pounding drums and, once again, no lyrics.
‘Like Herod’ (from Mogwai Young Team)
Another highlight of their debut and featuring the auditory equivalent of a horror movie ‘jump’ sequence, the track disintegrating away to almost nothing before bursting back in, all guitars blazing, in a glorious, eleven-minute-long noisefest that sounds like a beefed-up My Bloody Valentine.
'Black Spider' (from Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait – Official Soundtrack)
One of the best moments on their brilliant soundtrack for this unique documentary, taken with the reprise later on the album it clocks in at over 9 minutes, but never feels like it. Awash with slow, chugging drums and reversed tape effects, it’s one to shut your eyes and zone out to.
'George Square Thatcher Death Party' (from Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will)
Aside from having possibly the best song title of 2011, this cut from their last studio outing is a little more uptempo than usual and, for the first time on this list, there are lyrics – although they’re pretty indecipherable to the untrained ear and further mangled through some kind of vocoder effect, but it’s a refreshing blast of raucous post-rock nonetheless.