Mogwai Fear Nobody

Mogwai came back to Manchester’s Albert Hall on Sunday night to play to another sold out crowd (they’d played Friday night too). People who went on the first night said I was in for a treat and they were right. Mogwai were stunning. Making noise is easy. Making noise with beauty in it, controlling it and riding it is something else. Mogwai have also hit upon a sweet spot where they can make largely instrumental guitar-heavy music that has huge emotional resonance. Post-rock can sometimes be technically impressive but a bit bloodless, without heart. Mogwai’s tunes, especially the ones off last year’s excellent Every Country’s Sun, hit the spot. Party In The Dark, surging psychedelia crossed with Peter Hook’s bass, is a proper moment, getting me right there.

The group switch instruments around, swapping from bass to guitar or guitar to keyboards, shards of melody escaping through the FX pedal wall of noise. In the fairly compact space of the Albert Hall with its high roof space, Methodist chapel organ pipes still in situ above the stage, the rising waves of guitar cause a few whoops and arms in the air but mainly people stand in silence, swaying slightly. Their use of rhythms, bass and toplines, crescendo, peaks and troughs often make me think that this is a band who are not just post-rock (which is a rubbish description anyway) but post-house too. The lightshow, strips of colour behind them, strobes and spots, add to the intensity. Mogwai work their way through much of the recent lp plus some older ones, a magical Rano Pano and an epic Mogwai Fear Satan. The songs unfold slowly, still and quiet beginnings and endings, sections that create a vast noise, three guitarists and a bassist perfectly in tune with each other, who can then kill it dead. At times, there’s so much going on in the mix that its difficult to tell who is doing what. At the end of the set three of them are on their knees at the front of the stage, manipulating their pedals, playing the howling feedback and distortion. At the close of the encore Stuart is last off, again fiddling with the buttons on his pedals before leaving and the roadies appearing to turn the amps off. My only complaint is that they didn’t play The Sun Smells Too Loud. I’m not sure I can forgive them for that actually, as it would have taken the top of my head clean off given the form they are in.

Mogwai Fear Satan

I caught the last two-and-a-bit songs by support act, electronic trio Beak>, who were busy being very good indeed- live synths and samples, bass and Geoff Barrow’s krautrock drumming. The new one they finished with, which they promised they’d get wrong, sounded ace- and they didn’t get it wrong either.

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Let The Evocation Begin

Kettle on- Weatherall’s brewing up. It’s that man again back at that radio station playing that high quality and eclectic mix of songs again. Includes two from the excellent new Liminanas album, an old Weatherall remix of The Shoes, a new one from Timothy J Fairplay, an unreleased one from the Woodleigh Research Facility plus the latest Fort Beulah release.

Tonight I’m off to see Mogwai go through their paces at the Albert Halls in town. I am expecting a night of intense but ultimately uplifting instrumental post rock from bearded Scots in black played to intense but ultimately uplifting bearded Mancs in black.

Crossing The Road Material

Let’s blow those post-Christmas cobwebs away with some Mogwai, a song that gained a video/short film on December 21st. This is one of those slowly building, sky-scraping guitar tracks that they do so well.

It can’t take away that extra inch you’ve gained around the waist over the last few days though.

Party In The Dark

Oh look everyone, Mogwai just recorded and released one of the best things they’ve ever done. And it doesn’t sound like a nuclear apocalypse either.

Feedback intro leading to Hooky-esque bass, rolling drums, euphoric guitars and gentle singing, everything rising steadily and insistently to a crescendo. Seems to fit in with these end days of summer, the closing in of the nights, the fading sunshine and Autumn’s chilly fingers poking at you.

This song, from 2008’s Hawk Is Howling, is a masterpiece of flowing, ecstatic, instrumental rock, which could work equally well on a dancefloor. One of my favourite pieces of music from the last decade.

The Sun Smells Too Loud

The picture shows a statue of Friedrich Engels, imported from Ukraine and placed outside the Manchester’s new arts centre Home, in Tony Wilson Place. Engels lived in the city in the middle of the 19th century and wrote The Condition Of The Working Class In England based on his observations and research here. Engels had been sent to Manchester by his father, to live in Weaste, Salford, to work at the family firm. It was supposed to ‘cure’ him of his radical views. It had the opposite effect. Karl Marx visited him several times during his almost thirty year stay. The rest, as they often say, is history.

Fear

Flaming June eh? How come it’s nearly half way through 2016 already? Today’s offering is a treat for noiseniks from 1998, Kevin Shields remixing Mogwai and their already fearsome Mogwai Fear Satan song. Shields goes for broke with this sixteen minutes long song, adding flute and what at one point sounds like bagpipes to the guitar feakery. The first play of this on 12″ when it came out made me wonder if the stylus or stereo were broken and although the breakdown section at around nine fifty is pretty beautiful it’s probably not best served at a family barbeque. Credit where it’s due, thanks to DH for his photo of a forest in the Lake District taken at the weekend.

Mogwai Fear Satan (My Bloody Valentine Remix)

Atomic

Mogwai are going to release their soundtrack to Atomic: Living In Dread And Promise, a BBC4 documentary from last summer. The documentary was a montage of the atomic age- mushroom clouds, fallout shelters, the Cold War, protests, X-rays and so on. The album will be have ten tracks and this one, U-235, is out on Soundcloud. It actually manages to sound like growing up in the 1980s with the ever present threat of nuclear war.

Rave On

I’m a bit of a dipper with Mogwai. I’ve got Young Team, Hawk Is Howling and one other- can’t remember which off the top of my head. All three are excellent albums. They managed to pull off the trick of being always the same, always different. They have really good song titles. The new album- Rave Tapes- has unexpectedly wormed its way into my ears over the last week and is highly recommended. Quiet bits, noisier bits, some beautiful melodies, guitar lines and keyboards building intricately, a few crescendos, atmosphere, a bit of groove and rumbling drum patterns, the sampled ramblings of a Led Zep fan.

Here, one set of noisy boys (Mogwai) remix another set of noisy boys (Fuck Buttons).

Colours Move (Mogwai Remix)