SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #212 : MOGWAI

Lifted from all music:-

Formed by longtime friends whose goal was to create “serious guitar music,” Mogwai did much more than that over the course of their decades-long career. Their early experiments in extreme dynamic shifts and long, sweeping tracks — exemplified by their 1999 debut album, Young Team — built on Slint‘s legacy while defining the sound of post-rock (even though they disliked being associated with the style). As time went on, Mogwai’s music grew more ambitious and more diverse, spanning the electronic-enhanced introspection of 2001’s Rock Action and 2014’s Rave Tapes to the heavier sounds of 2008’s The Hawk Is Howling and 2017’s Every Country’s Sun. The band’s mastery of atmosphere made them a natural fit for soundtrack work, and their scores for Zidane (2006), Les Revenants (2013), and Atomic (2016) were just as vital as their own albums.

Formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1995 by guitarist/vocalist Stuart Braithwaite, guitarist Dominic Aitchison, and drummer Martin Bulloch, Mogwai added another guitarist, John Cummings, before debuting in March 1996 with the single “Tuner.” A rarity in the Mogwai discography for its prominent vocals, it was followed by a split single with Dweeb titled “Angels vs. Aliens” that landed in the Top Ten on the British indie charts. After 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 the compilation Ten Rapid. That May, they released the 4 Satin EP.

Former Teenage Fanclub and Telstar Ponies member Brendan O’Hare joined the lineup in time to record the band’s debut studio LP, Young Team. Recorded at Hamilton, Scotland’s Gargleblast Studios, it featured some of Mogwai’s most striking examples of their sudden dynamic shifts. O’Hare 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, a set of elongated, implosive tracks.

Mogwai continued to evolve in the 2000s, adding electronic and textural elements to their next album, 2001’s Rock Action. Late that year, the band released the My Father, My King EP. On 2003’s ironically titled Happy Songs for Happy People, the band added strings and pianos as well as synths to their palette, making it one of their lushest-sounding albums to date. Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003 arrived early in 2005. Their fifth album, 2006’s Mr. Beast, continued the reflective direction of their work in the 2000s.

In the middle of the decade, Mogwai began their soundtrack career, which became an important part of their music in the years to come. The band collaborated with Clint Mansell on the soundtrack to Darren Aronofsky‘s 2005 film The Fountain. Mogwai also crafted the score for Douglas Gordon‘s documentary Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which was released in the U.K. in 2006 and in the U.S. the following year. With 2008’s Batcat EP, which featured a collaboration with garage-psych legend Roky Erickson, Mogwai heralded the return of the heavier rock that dominated that year’s full-length The Hawk Is Howling. In 2010, Mogwai released their first live album, Special Moves, as a package with the Vincent Moon-directed concert film Burning.

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 acclaimed 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 live performances of their Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait score in Glasgow, Manchester, and London, and with recording their eighth proper album at their Castle of Doom studio. The Krautrock and electronic-influenced Rave Tapes arrived in early 2014. At the end of the year, the band issued the Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1. EP, a collection of Rave Tapes remixes and previously unreleased songs.

In 2015, Cummings left the band to work on his own 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. Later that year, Mogwai, along with Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Gustavo Santaolalla, contributed music to Fisher Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change documentary Before the Flood. On 2017’s Every Country’s Sun, the band reunited with Rock Action producer David Fridmann and balanced the electronic leanings of their 2010s output with the heavier sounds of their work in the ’90s and 2000s. In 2018, Mogwai scored their first feature film, the sci-fi crime thriller KIN.

JC adds….

The sheer diversity and incredible work-ethic of Mogwai has to be admired, but it is something that has made it difficult for me to really get to grips with them.  I don’t have a huge amount in the collection, and just about everything I have bought over the years has left me a tad bemused…although the two occasions I have seen them perform live have been quite stunning.  By rights, they should have appeared on this blog more than they have featured, but I don’t think I’m qualified enough for such a task.

I do, however, love this track from Every Country’s Sun, probably on the basis that it is the least un-Mogwai track they have ever come out with  – it’s another with prominent vocals, for a change. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it is one of my very favourite songs of the 21st Century.

mp3 : Mogwai – Party In The Dark

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 1)

A GUEST SERIES by SWC

I’ll be honest, 2019 was the year that I feel out of love with music. For a good six months, everything I listened to sounded boring, dated, uninteresting and worthless. I mean everything. I have my reasons. I downloaded precisely zero music throughout 2019. I listened to a lot of podcasts instead.

This malaise ended in December. Three days before Christmas I came home for work and found my daughter sitting on the sofa listening to music via the Amazon sponsored listening device that is Alexa. The song she was listening to was ‘the Mince Pie Song’ by Santa.

Which is awful but it does contain the immortal line ‘Oooh they are so tasty, they are my favourite kind of pastry’. When it had finished, my daughter told me that it was ‘Her Favourite song of the year’ and then she asked me ‘What my favourite song of the year was’ and I didn’t know. Normally I could reel off a Top 50 for her (not that she’d be interested in whether I thought Denzel Curry was better than Jamelia Woods or not – he’s not, just in case).

So I said “Well, ‘The Mince Pie Song’ I suppose”. And I meant it because it was genuinely the only song that I heard in 2019 that stayed in the mind. At that point I thought I must be able to do better than that. So that evening I went online and read a ton of end of year charts, I listened to a bunch of playlists and slowly the love ebbed back into my life.

There was this for example

Big – Fontaines DC

Or this

Would You Rather be Lonely? – Red Rum Club

And, rather unpredictably, this

Hero – Michael Kiwanuka

All of which made me realise, exactly what it was I loved about music.

By New Years Day, music was back in my life. On January 2nd I sat at my computer and found myself browsing old posts of the Vinyl Villain (I was looking for a particular track by The Fall, I’m not some weirdo fanboy, well I am, but…anyway…) and I stumbled across the excellent 45 45’s at 45 series and a little light pinged somewhere – this is my 45th year on the planet and I suddenly whirled away into a reverie compiling a list of my favourite 45 records of all time. Which I’ve sort of already compiled elsewhere in the past at a blog that no longer exists. So instead I’ve compiled a list of 45 singles that have in some way influenced my life – they are not the Best 45 Records Ever (although some are) and if JC will indulge me I’d be honoured if you’d let me talk you through them. To tempt you further I’d like to start with this.

45. Mogwai Fear Satan – Mogwai (1997 Chemikal Underground Records)

Released a single in March 1998 – it did not chart

In 1999, I saw Mogwai play in Berlin, by complete chance at it happens, (I’ve told this story before) in a burnt out cinema, it was one of the greatest evenings of my life – they ended show with Mogwai Fear Satan and it was utterly incredible. I could barely hear for three days afterwards.

‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ for those in the dark is a sixteen minute instrumental track that closes Mogwai’s debut album ‘Mogwai Young Team’. It is an incredible sixteen minutes of music that is centres around a chaotic drumbeat that fades in and then out again and then in again and a guitar riff that does the same thing. It also features a flute before it fades away into a blur of feedback.

In March 1998 it was released as a single to accompany ‘Kicking A Dead Pig’ a Mogwai Remix album. Which saw the likes of u-ziq, Surgeon and My Bloody Valentine tweak the track beyond all recognition.

Mogwai Fear Satan (My Bloody Valentine Mix)

SWC

JC adds…….

This new series will appear at regular intervals over the coming weeks and months, leading up to the #1 song being revealed on the day that swc turns 45.  The second part is tomorrow…..

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #166 : MOGWAI

A GUEST POSTING by ROBERT STRANGEWAYS

There’s a whole bundle of great ICAs in the pipeline, courtesy of guest postings.  A huge thanks to everyone for their submissions and apologies if you’ve been waiting a while to see your handiwork come to life.  I want to keep the ICAs to one per week just now, so please continue to be patient….and again my thanks.

I’ve plucked this one out as it is a very first guest contribution from someone who I’ve been very fortunate to get to know in recent years and who has, very kindly, allowed me to scratch the itch of the DJing bug by offering me the opportunity to be part of the various nights that he organises in Glasgow.  I will get round to posting up my thoughts on the first ever Mixtape from a few weeks ago, along with the incredibly eclectic setlist, but for now will bring you Robert’s thoughts on one of his all-time top bands……

For me, Mogwai have been one of those bands who get better with every release, one of those bands that you think can’t possibly build on their last release, then they do.

They have been described as many things; “Post-Rock, Math-Rock, Ambient, Rock Alternative, Shoe-Gaze” but the truth is I don’t think they can be pigeon holed. They have created their own place in music, judging by the audience size and rapturous reaction to their show in the Hydro at the end of last year it’s a good place to be.

This compilation is designed to showcase the range of sound they create and not just the loud-a-bit, quiet-a-bit, loud again some people associate then with. From their first album “Young Team” through numerous albums and sound-tracks to their most recent “Every Countries Sun” they have evolved and become something special.

Helicon 1 (from Ten Rapid, 1997)

Second single and still a live favourite, collected on the recently re-released “Ten Rapid” compilation. Originally Called “New Paths to Helicon pt1” it often gets shortened to Helicon 1.

The Sun Smells Too Loud (from The Hawk is Howling, 2008)

The Hawk is Howling was the first Mogwai album to have no lyrics on any of the songs consisting only of instrumental tracks.

Eternal Panther (Party in the Dark Single – B-side, 2017)

An amazing song from the “Every Countries Sun” sessions and B-Side to their most “pop” single to date “Party in the Dark”. It was included in a recent compilation “Glasgow Nights” for Money Advice Scotland which is available on band-camp and features a host of current Scottish artists.

It reminds me a little of Swervedriver and Arab Strap live (maybe just me)

Remurdered (from Rave Tapes, 2014)

By their eighth studio album “Rave Tapes” it saw the band really extend on the electronic sounds of previous albums but draw on an altogether darker sounding album. “Repelish” on the same album is also worth checking out, it heavily samples someone talking about hidden messages in rock records.

2 Rights Make 1 Wrong (from Rock Action, 2001)

“Rock Action” game the name to both an album and their excellent record label, home to Outlines, Remember, Remember and Sacred Paws among many others.

This song features on a Blueprint Skateboard video called “First Broadcast” and Soundtracks Ali Cairns part as he flies through the air beautifully.

I Know You Are But What Am I (from Happy Songs for Happy People, 2003)

Last year as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Castle was lit up with a projection showing the development of the rock over time. The images and show were sound tracked by Mogwai. I never really got the album “Happy Songs for Happy People” or this song when it came out but that night brought it alive and matched the work perfectly.

Jaguar (from Les Revenants Soundtrack, 2013)

Soundtracks have been good for Mogwai, from following a French footballer round the pitch for 90 minutes (Zidane) or sound tracking an Atomic Apocalypse (Atomic). This track is from the French supernatural series “Les Revenants” renamed The Returned for the UK

Crossing the Road Material (from Every Countries Sun, 2017)

One of the stand out tracks from the afore-mentioned “Every Countries Sun”, definitely one of the best sounding tracks when played live from the new album. At the time of release the band recorded a session for 6 Music with Cat Myers from Honeyblood drumming, it’s on you-tube and is well worth your time.

Cody (from Come on Die Young, 1999)

A beautiful romantic sad song and title track for their second album “Come on Die Young”

Old songs stay ’til the end
Sad songs remind me of friends

I can’t tell you how many times this song has struck me when driving on the way how from a club or gig late at night

When I drive alone at night, I see the streetlights as fairgrounds
And I tried a hundred times to see the road signs as Day-Glo

Friend of the Night (from Mr Beast, 2006)

Friend of the Night comes from their shortest album (clocking just 45 minutes ) as they side stepped the building of crescendos instead opting for straight on assault. There is a live version of this track on their live Album/DVD (Special Moves/ Burning) which showcases their live experience well.

Mogwai Fear Satan – (from Young Team, 1997)

The final song is from the debut album “Young Team” 16 minutes of musical terror highs and lows. Always a live favourite and LOUD so very LOUD. The track has been extensively remixed and reworked even at one point used as walk on music for the Manic Street Preachers.

ROBERT

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT….TALK ABOUT POP MUZAK

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Today’s letter was chosen by my friend Mark. He asked the question why – and I told him so we will probably have another reader today (welcome Mark). He chose the letter M, and a conversation started about randomness. I have lived most of my life by randomness, my iPods are only ever set to shuffle, at the start of the 11th song, whoever is playing at the time, I stop the iPod and listen to whatever album, single etc that song features on. Yesterday for instance Bombay Bicycle Club were the 11th band, well the first one, Goldfrapp were the second. Try it, it’s a great way to live. Its also why I contacted JC in the first place after his ‘Random Shuffle’ series which he should definitely bring back.

It goes further than that though, I still have a half empty box of cd’ s in my shed, gathering dust which I have to pick out at random for this very blog (more on that later), but I also like to travel by random. Once I bought a guide book of Europe, and I asked the person who sold it to me to pick a number between 24 and 1283 (the guide book pages), she picked 535. I turned to the page and within 48 hours I was in Berlin (Berlin being the place on page 535) and that is really where my love affair with the random started.

I have used random picks to find bars, museums, art galleries you name it. In a bar in Berlin (the Grapes in Kreuzberg, since you ask) I asked the barman to pick a number between 1 and 67 (all the bars/clubs in Berlin listed in a mag I picked up) he chose 19, a club in Mitte housed in a burnt out cinema. A great choice, made all the greater because that night, by complete chance, Mogwai were playing there. Even luckier than that, was the fact that there were tickets still left on the door. Three hours later, having decided to spend the entire weekend, doing things chosen by random or by other people I was watching Mogwai in Berlin in a burnt out cinema. Mogwai were as you can imagine, incredible. When they played ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ I honestly felt like what was left of the cinema ceiling was going to collapse. Here’s a true story about Mogwai, once when reviewing them live for a magazine I mistyped Satan leaving out the first ‘a’. My editor phoned me and said “Mogwai sound great live but who is Stan”? I had no idea what he was talking about, so he published anyway, and then took the piss in print.

I told Mark that the first choice of band would be Mogwai, he had never heard Mogwai, so I posted some to my Facebook page the next day he said that it had a very long intro, its that sort of humour that makes me like Mark – which is why I was glad I asked him to pick my random letter.

mp3 : Mogwai – San Pedro

The next two songs are usually picked by me looking through the iPod for songs that I can write about or have a story about them. But today as I’m feeling random I have created a playlist of all my bands that start with M and after Mogwai’s ‘San Pedro’ has finished whatever is next shall be the choice. Warning I have at least one Madonna song on here (long story). Luckily I just deleted my Meatloaf, Richard Marx and Mantovani. Mogwai has finished…Oooh…

A few weeks ago, JC wrote a brilliant piece about Peter Hook and Revenge, the band he formed after New Order. Back in 1995 (?) he teamed up with fellow Revenge member David ‘Pottsy’ Potts to form Monaco (yup it was Monaco up next). They produced a sound not that dissimilar to New Order with songs set around Hook’s distinctive bass sound. There most well known and successful single was their debut one ‘What do you Want from me?’ which went all the way to Number 11 in the charts. It was taken from the album ‘Music For Pleasure’ which I think is probably the best thing Hooky has done outside of New Order. On that album was the track ‘Shine’ and it is that track which came up next on the iPod. A song that I had largely forgotten about, but one that is lovely. It was released as a single, the third from the album and stalled at Number 55, a shame because it deserved to go much higher. To be honest it wouldn’t sound out of place on any New Order album, in fact if Barney had sung this instead of Pottsy, I think it would have gone much higher in the charts. However, dismissing the New Order lite comments, it is a great pop record, and that folks is what we expect from Peter Hook.

mp3 : Monaco – Shine

Next up…There is I am told quite a scene going on in Leeds at the moment. I’ve been to Leeds once, it involved three pints of lager and two hour wait at a train station (It wasn’t random, I had to be there). It needs a scene. Menace Beach hail from Leeds and are a new band (read Leeds supergroup featuring members from other bands in the aforementioned scene that I have never heard of) that fuse shoegaze and college rock and come out sounding somewhere in the middle of My Bloody Valentine and the Smashing Pumpkins, this is not a bad thing at all. In fact it is a very good thing.

The track that came up was ‘Fortune Teller’ the lead track from their recent ‘Lowtalker EP’ and it sounds like something that would have been popular in 1995 when I was student. It has a trippy pyschadelic organ sound running through it and laid back guitars which are complimented by some floaty dreamy vocals. Part Pixies, part Beach Boys perhaps.

mp3 : Menace Beach – Fortune Teller

Back to the box, my new CD player has arrived. So, next week I will do the letter L and then I will be back to randomly selecting things from it, there are a few to catch up on. As a special treat here is the Gumball track that I mentioned a while ago – it doesn’t start with M but it was on top of the ‘pile that I have already pulled out and need talking about’ pile.

mp3 : Gumball – With A Little Rain

S-WC

 

IN PRAISE OF GLASGOW

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My home city is an extraordinary place.  The local tourist board recently adopted a new marketing phrase ‘People make Glasgow’ which I was never really sure of.  Too often some people in Glasgow leave me ashamed of the place.  Too many indulge in sectarianism behaviour, violence, casual racism and begging to indulge their drink/drugs habits. ‘People make Glasgow’ was a phrase that could all too easily backfire.

But the reaction to the tragedy of the helicopter crash on Friday 29 November and its aftermath has ensured that the new slogan is being seen in a positive light.  That so many casual passers-by rushed to the aid of those trapped inside the building without giving a thought to the potential danger they were putting themselves in was something that everyone seems to have commented on and civic leaders and other politicians were quick to associate these actions with the new slogan.

This tragic event happened when I was on holiday and it was only the next morning when I switched on the mobile phone did I pick up on what had happened.  I had a genuine sick to the stomach feeling as The Clutha was a pub I had the occasional drink in and was a place that some friends were in the habit of going to of an evening. Thankfully, from my perspective, those friends were elsewhere that night although I’ve since learned that a colleague from my old workplace was inside, and while he escaped any serious physical injury he is unsurprisingly suffering from stress and is very traumatized.   I wish him, and everyone who was caught up in the tragedy, a full and timely recovery.

I thought it appropriate to have these four songs posted today:-

mp3 : Mogwai – I Can’t Remember

mp3 : El Hombre Trajeado – Neoprene

mp3 : The Yummy Fur – Shivers

mp3 : The Karelia – New Year In New York

These tracks comprised the Glasgow EP, released on the Plastic Cowboy label back in 2000.   It was one of a series issued by the label in which they took four singers/bands from a city or region and put out 2 x 7″ singles in a sleeve that had some very weird images of each place.  The Glasgow EP was followed by efforts from Liverpool, Oxford, Essex and Tokyo (and came two years after The London EP which featured, among others, Hefner and Spearmint).

The tracks are, for the most part, abit experimental and ones for connoisseurs of each of the acts and not the most commercial pieces of music ever committed to vinyl, but are all worth a listen.

Mogwai are the best-known of the four, while El Hombre Trajaedo were a band that most Glasgow gig-goers will have caught at least once in their lifetime such was their level of activity and willingness to work with and support many better-known names.

The two band on the other 7″ – The Yummy Fur and The Karelia – had personnel who would in subsequent years would find fame and some fortune in Franz Ferdinand.  There is a hint of FF in both of the featured tracks.  The vocalist in The Yummy Fur was John McKeown who some of you might know as the frontman of the under-rated 1990’s who released a couple of very good indie-pop LPs in the latter half of the last decade.

Enjoy!!