So­lar pow­ered

Now a quar­tet, the Scots’ ninth al­bum adds heat to their sound­track seren­ity. By An­drew Perry.

Mojo (UK) - - News -

Mog­wai Ev­ery Coun­try’s Sun ROCK AC­TION. CD/DL/LP

TWENTY YEARS on from their de­but, post-rock cor­ner­stone Mog­wai Young Team, this La­nark­shire-hatched mas­sive have lately sculpted a tasty side­line as film sound­track­ers ex­traor­di­naire. Since scor­ing 2006’s Zi­dane: A 21st Cen­tury Por­trait – an ab­stract af­fair which tri­umphed com­mer­cially, thanks to its Franco-Al­ge­rian star’s in­fa­mous head-butt in that year’s World Cup Fi­nal – they’ve clinched a suc­ces­sion of plum com­mis­sions, in­clud­ing Atomic, Mark Cousins’ 2016 doc­u­men­tary about life un­der the nu­clear shadow. Air­ing that one live, along­side Cousins’ vi­su­als last year in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, 16 au­di­ence mem­bers were ap­par­ently stretchered out. The once-lairy Scots’ high-vol­ume po­tency re­mains be­yond ques­tion. In the be­gin­ning, Mog­wai took the art­fully poised ex­per­i­men­tal­ism of US ‘posties’ like Tor­toise and blasted it heav­en­wards with punk-metal en­ergy, along­side pow­er­fully con­trast­ing bliss­ful pas­sages. Along a topsy-turvy ca­reer path, 2011’s Hard­core Will Never Die, But You Will, as per ti­tle, saw them smashing it gui­tar-wise with amps at 11-plus, but this ninth al­bum sees their cin­e­matic ex­plo­rations feed­ing back into their ‘main’ work – ini­tially, at least. Ev­ery Coun­try’s Sun re­unites them with Dave Frid­mann, their pro­ducer circa 1999-2001, whose ana­logue-cum-dig­i­tal wiz­ardry is a better fit than ever for the lat­terly com­put­erised, synth-friendly Mog­wai. Coolver­ine opens pro­ceed­ings at a glide, as a bur­bling synth is soon deftly wo­ven upon with chim­ing arpeg­giated gui­tars, deep-bass anx­i­ety, fur­ther key­board tex­tures and a man­gled non­beat of text­book post-rock avoid-theob­vi­ous­ness. Sec­ond up, Party In The Dark is, says keysman/gui­tarist Barry Burns, “as close to a ra­dio hit as we’re likely to get”. Here, nutty gui­tarist Stu­art Braith­waite al­most-sings in a breathy psychedel­i­cally mul­ti­tracked whirl – like a plan­gent Di­nosaur Jr whipped through a wind-tun­nel. It’s prob­a­bly more 6Mu­sic than drive-time. Go­ing for­ward from there, Mog­wai in­dulge their more filmic side: Brain Sweet­ies lay­ers sunny synths on thump­ing trip-hop drums; Cross­ing The Road Ma­te­rial bar­rels along a sub­lime mo­torik groove, with skyscrap­ing crescen­dos; then into the mood­ier drum-free am­bi­ent at­mo­spher­ics of aka 47, and 1000 Foot Face’s un­easy, Eno-es­que seren­ity. All this sets the lis­tener up for a sucker-punch not un­like the one in Robert Ro­driguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, where a bank-job flick sud­denly left-turns into vam­pire hor­ror, as Don’t Be­lieve The Fife qui­etly sim­mers un­til four minutes in, when it sud­denly un­furls into a widescreen epic, and, af­ter a fur­ther 30 sec­onds, mas­sive power chords ar­rive, for a coda of el­e­vated riff­ing. This whole ruse, akin to key early track Like Herod’s quiet-loud dy­namic spun out over an al­bum’s du­ra­tion, leads from more gui­tar heav­ios­ity through to a rev­e­la­tory fi­nale on the ti­tle track, which builds and builds to bow­elshak­ing pro­por­tions. One might sus­pect that Mog­wai, for­ever en­thused by the bi­nary op­tions of ex­treme noize and mind-mash­ing calm, would’ve run out of steam by now. In a word: wrong.

Bring the noize, spread the calm: Mog­wai will shake your bow­els.

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