Jan 8, 2017

Sundaze 1702


Today's artists are a Scottish post-rock band, formed in 1995 in Glasgow. The band typically compose lengthy guitar-based instrumental pieces that feature dynamic contrast, melodic bass guitar lines, and heavy use of distortion and effects. The band were for several years signed to renowned Glasgow indie label Chemikal Underground, and now use their own label Rock Action Records in the UK, and Sub Pop in North America. The band were frequently championed by John Peel from their early days......N'Joy

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The cosmic post-rock band Mogwai was formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996 by guitarist/vocalist Stuart Braithwaite, guitarist Dominic Aitchison, and drummer Martin Bulloch, longtime friends with the goal of creating "serious guitar music." Toward that end, they added another guitarist, John Cummings, before debuting in March 1996 with the single "Tuner," a rarity in the Mogwai discography for its prominent vocals; the follow-up, a split single with Dweeb titled "Angels vs. Aliens," landed in the Top Ten on the British indie charts. Following appearances on a series of compilations, Mogwai returned later in the year with the 7" "Summer," and after another early 1997 single, "New Paths to Helicon," they issued Ten Rapid, a collection of their earliest material.

Around the time that Mogwai recorded the superb 1997 EP 4 Satin, former Teenage Fanclub and Telstar Ponies member Brendan O'Hare joined the lineup in time for the recording of Mogwai's debut studio LP, Mogwai Young Team. He exited a short time later -- returning to his primary projects Macrocosmica and Fiend -- to be replaced by Barry Burns. Mogwai next issued 1998's Kicking a Dead Pig, a two-disc remix collection; the No Education = No Future (Fuck the Curfew) EP appeared a few months later. In 1999, they released Come on Die Young. Rock Action arrived in early 2001. Late that year, Mogwai released the My Father, My King EP; two years later, they issued the ironically titled Happy Songs for Happy People. Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2004 arrived early in 2005.

Mr. Beast, which was released in 2006, found the band going in a softer, more reflective direction. Late that year, the band's collaboration with Clint Mansell on the soundtrack to The Fountain arrived; Mogwai also crafted the score for Douglas Gordon's Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which was released in the U.K. in 2006 and in the U.S. the following spring. The Batcat EP, which featured a collaboration with garage-psych legend Roky Erickson, arrived in late summer 2008, heralding the release of The Hawk Is Howling -- which reunited the band with producer Andy Miller for the first time in a decade -- that fall. In 2010, Mogwai released their first live album, Special Moves, as a package with the Vincent Moon-directed concert film Burning.

Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will For 2011's Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the band reunited with Young Team producer Paul Savage for a more streamlined set of songs. Later that year, they followed up with an EP of unreleased material from the Hardcore sessions, Earth Division, released on Sub Pop. Late in 2012, the band issued A Wrenched Virile Lore, a collection of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will remixes. Early the following year, the first taste of their score to the French zombie TV series Les Revenants (which was based on the 2004 film of the same name) arrived as a four-song EP; in February 2013, the full-length album appeared.

Mogwai filled the rest of the year with recording their eighth proper album, Rave Tapes, at their Castle of Doom studio, live performances of their Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait score in Glasgow, Manchester, and London, and other live performances. Rave Tapes, which boasted a more streamlined and electronic direction than Mogwai's recent albums, was released in early 2014. Late that year, the band issued the Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1 EP, a collection of Rave Tapes remixes as well as new songs.

Cummings left the band in 2015 to work on his own solo projects. Mogwai's first release after his departure was 2016's Atomic, a collection of reworked tracks from their music for Mark Cousins' BBC 4 documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise. They returned later that year with a number of compositions on the collaborative soundtrack for Fisher Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary about the impact of climate change, Before the Flood.

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At first glance, the album title Happy Songs for Happy People seems almost as ironic as the name of their previous album, Rock Action. After listening to the album, however, it's apparent that its title isn't just meant as a joke. Though "happy" isn't necessarily the first word that springs to mind when describing the band's intricate, brooding style, it is a word and emotion that is both simple and profound, much like the direction Mogwai's music takes here. Happy Songs for Happy People takes the focus and restraint of Rock Action to greater lengths, but it never feels like a rehash of their previous work. The palette of sounds the band uses -- which includes rolling guitars and pianos, swelling strings, persuasive but un-showy drumming, and occasional forays into distortion and electronics -- is a relatively small one, but the band uses it wisely on tracks as diverse as the lovely, understated "Kids Will Be Skeletons" (arguably the "happiest" song on the album) and the gloriously dense finale, "Stop Coming to My House," which piles layers and layers of distorted drums, guitars, and synths atop each other. Mogwai also employs its usual quietly beautiful/explosively noisy dynamic formula expertly, particularly on the gorgeous "Killing All the Flies," which feels much longer (in a good way) than four and a half minutes.
Old-school Mogwai fans disappointed by the relative brevity of most of Happy Songs for Happy People's songs should be pleased by "Ratts of the Capital," which, over the course of eight minutes, nearly reaches the epic proportions of the Young Team/Come on Die Young era. Once again, though, it's not merely a return to their old sound: The track begins with darkly chiming guitars and xylophones and then builds to a crushing climax, but even its heaviest moments are leavened with beauty, and its nearly symmetrical rise and fall make it fit perfectly with the rest of the album. Fortunately, though, the new techniques Mogwai explores on this album are just as satisfying, if not more so, than the band's familiar ones: "Golden Porsche"'s richly mellow bass and pianos sound more akin to Americana than post-rock, while "I Know You Are But What Am I?"'s shuffling, piston-like rhythm and twinkling synths are both brooding and childlike. A strangely dreamy, reverent feel winds through the album, surfacing on the Spiritualized-esque "Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep" and "Moses? I Amn't," which has a buzzing synth bass so deep it makes your brain vibrate. In some ways, Happy Songs for Happy People is almost too consistent -- by the time its second half rolls around, it's easy to take its dense beauty for granted. The upside is that it's one of those rare albums where you're convinced that you've just heard the song that is going to be your favorite -- until you hear the next song, and then the song after that. With Happy Songs for Happy People, Mogwai gets to have it both ways -- it's ironic and sincere, concise and expansive, challenging and accessible, and it's one of the band's best albums, no two ways about it.

Mogwai - Happy Songs for Happy People  (flac  260mb)

01 Hunted By A Freak 4:18
02 Moses? I Amn't 2:59
03 Kids Will Be Skeletons 5:29
04 Killing All The Flies 4:35
05 Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep 3:05
06 Ratts Of The Capital 8:27
07 Golden Porsche 2:49
08 I Know You Are But What Am I ? 5:17
09 Stop Coming To My House 4:53

Mogwai - Happy Songs for Happy People    (ogg 104mb)

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Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996 -- 2003 collects some of Mogwai's best performances on John Peel and Steve Lamacq's programs. The compilation's track selections are inspired: taking two songs from each of the band's albums (except Rock Action, from which only "Secret Pint" appears here) and a handful of tracks from their mid-'90s EPs, Government Commissions gives a good idea of how Mogwai's sound evolved. Pieces like 4 Satin's "Superheroes of BMX" and "New Paths to Helicon Pt I" reflect the band's spare, elongated early work, while "Hunted By a Freak" and "Stop Coming to My House," both of which are from 2003's Happy Songs for Happy People and bookend Government Commissions, are lush, dense and shimmering. The album's sequencing also underscores the band's mastery of dynamics. It builds from subtly taut tracks like "R U Still In 2 It" and "Kappa" to the album's centerpiece, an 18-minute version of "Like Herod" that shows off the song's tense quiet and beautifully ugly guitar mayhem, and then winds down with more reflective songs. The album's live atmosphere, which includes voice-overs from the much-missed Peel, adds to its organic ebb and flow, which is all the more remarkable considering that it spans seven years' worth of performances. Though die-hard Mogwai fans are probably the most likely to pick this up, Government Commissions works so well that it could also double as a Mogwai greatest-hits collection -- something that can't be said about many other live compilations.

Mogwai - Government Commisssions, BBC Sessions 1996-2003  (flac  395mb)

01 Hunted By A Freak 4:09
02 R U Still In 2 It 6:19
03 New Paths To Helicon Pt II 2:53
04 Kappa 4:26
05 Cody 6:08
06 Like Herod 18:30
07 Secret Pint 4:45
08 Superheroes Of BMX 7:30
09 New Paths To Helicon Pt I 8:13
10 Stop Coming To My House 4:42

Mogwai - Government Commisssions BBC Sessions 1996-2003    (ogg 152mb)

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Possibly the most accessible yet sophisticated album Mogwai has released, Mr. Beast strips away most of the electronic embellishment of their recent work in favor of a back-to-basics sound that returns to and expands on the approach they pioneered on Young Team. Mr. Beast is also a surprisingly spontaneous-sounding album -- in the best possible sense, its freshness makes it feel like a recorded practice session and also helps give relatively delicate pieces like "Team Handed" the same amount of impact that heavy, searing tracks like the closer, "We're No Here," have. Interestingly, more of Mr. Beast tends toward the former kind of song than the latter; "Friend of the Night," "Emergency Trap," and the glorious, slow-burning album opener, "Auto-Rock," give the album an unusually refined, even elegant feel that is underscored by the prominent use of piano and lap steel in the arrangements. On songs like "Acid Food" and the magnificent "I Chose Horses" -- which features cavernously deep bass and spoken word vocals by Tetsuya Fukagawa from the Japanese hardcore band Envy -- Mr. Beast feels downright pastoral. However, Mogwai doesn't give up their heavy side entirely, as the aforementioned "We're No Here" and "Glasgow Mega-Snake" show; any song that has either "mega" or "snake" in the title should rock, and this one does, kicking off with a claustrophobic snarl of guitars that makes this one of the most intense pieces Mogwai has ever recorded. Mr. Beast manages to be immediate without sounding dumbed-down..

Mogwai - Mr. Beast  (flac  254mb)

01 Auto Rock 4:18
02 Glasgow Mega-Snake 3:35
03 Acid Food 3:40
04 Travel Is Dangerous 4:01
05 Team Handed 3:58
06 Friend Of The Night 5:30
07 Emergency Trap 3:31
08 Folk Death 95 3:34
09 I Chose Horses 5:13
10 We're No Here 5:39

Mogwai - Mr. Beast   (ogg  91mb)

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Mogwai's Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait doesn't have much in the way of catchy melodies, and its tracks tend to blend into each other -- but these are precisely the reasons why this score is so effective. Droning, hypnotic, but subtly tense, this album is about crafting and sustaining a mood, even more so than the band's collaboration with Clint Mansell on the music for The Fountain. It's understandable why fans expecting another Young Team or even Mr. Beast might find Zidane too monochromatic: on tracks such as "Black Spider," Mogwai shift their famously wide-ranging dynamics into neutral, concentrating on the band's shimmering, introspective side; it's only toward the end of the over 20-minute hidden track tacked onto "Black Spider 2" that Mogwai approach heavier territory. Meanwhile, the moody piano and guitar themes repeat on "Half Time" and "Time and a Half," giving the score a unity that could seem monotonous separated from the film's context. However, while most of Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait is the musical equivalent of a faint but still distinct shadow, several tracks are standouts, albeit subtle ones. "Wake Up and Go Berserk" -- which follows in the footsteps of other ironically named Mogwai works like Rock Action and Happy Songs for Happy People -- is a thing of bleak beauty, mingling vapor-trail electric guitar textures with looping acoustic guitar melodies. Likewise, "7:25" and "I Do Have Weapons" are also sublimely poignant, without ever feeling like they're pandering. It's easy and true enough to say that this album will appeal mostly to Mogwai diehards, but it's such a quietly accomplished musical portrait of one of soccer's most complex and controversial personalities that Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait could very well add some soundtrack buffs and sports aficionados to the band's ranks of fans.

Mogwai - Zidane; A 21st Century Portrait  (flac  322mb)

01 Black Spider 5:04
02 Terrific Speech 2 4:08
03 Wake Up And Go Berserk 4:45
04 Terrific Speech 4:47
05 7:25 5:13
06 Half Time 6:49
07 I Do Have Weapons 4:16
08 Time And A Half 5:56
09 It Would Have Happened Anyway 2:34
10 Black Spider 2 4:12
11 Untitled 23:02

Mogwai - Zidane; A 21st Century Portrait    (ogg  131mb)

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EQ said...

thanks a lot for this and all! and happy new year!

Peter Tron said...


i haven't heard much by them since i bought come on die young. a mate bought rock action, and i remember liking that. i was struck by how vocals were taking a front seat in the album. bloody good, if i recall..