HAPPY SONGS FOR HAPPY PEOPLE


MOGWAI

Mogwai is, according to wikipedia, a Scottish "post-rock" band from Glasgow. I understand the Scottish part, but what does post-rock mean? According once again to wikipedia, that is a sub-genre of rock music where the usual type of instruments are used, guitar, drums etc. but used to produce "timbre and textures" not usually found in mainstram rock. They're usually instrumental. Timbre and texture? Tones and sounds to you and me. In other words, Mogwai are a rock band, but are not like other rock bands. I suppse you would have to listen to their music to know exactly what it means.

Mogwai formed in 1995 and consisted of "Stuart Braithwaite (guitar, vocals), Barry Burns (guitar, piano, synthesizer, vocals), Dominic Aitchison (bass guitar), and Martin Bulloch (drums). 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 have been distributed by different labels such as Matador in the US and Play It Again Sam in the UK, but 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, and recorded seven Peel Sessions between 1996 and 2004. Peel also recorded a brief introduction for the compilation Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 19962003." (from wikipedia)

I first heard of Mogwai through my daughter, when I borrowed her copy of "Happy Songs For Happy People". I fell in love with their music when I watched the French zombie series with a difference, Les Revanants ("The Returned"). The band were given a translated copy of the script of the first episode. They produced some eerie, beautiful music without even having seen any footage. Their demos were played during the filming, resulting in the producers "as being a character within the film as much as the people involved". This led to the music being known as "a living soundtrack" as it was written as the filming progressed. Originally, the producers of the show wanted bombastic, crashing music to go with the action scenes, but the band realised that calm but unsettling music would better suit the atmosphere.

Since then I've enjoyed their latest compilation album Central Belters (which has three cds, or six LPs), which celebrates 20 years of their fantastic music. One critic wrote that their music "resides somewhere on the spectrum between rainy-day melancholy and blood-boiling rage" (from Pitchfork). Which is fair enough! A track often starts out gently, quietly and then gradually builds to a rageous crescendo. Which tracks to listen to if you've never heard them before? The Les Revanants soundtrack is a good place to start, or Central Belters. Or just type "Mogwai" into Youtube and see what you come up with. How to be a werewolf; The sun smells too loud; Kids will be skeletons: their track titles are certainly intriguing.

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DISCOGRAPHY

(Not including extended play albums, remixes and singles.)

Mogwai Young Team (1997)
Ten Rapid (1997) compilaton album
Come On Die Young (1999)
EP+6 (2000) compilaton album
Rock Action (2001)
Happy Songs For Happy People (2003)
Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 19962003 (2005) compilaton album
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006) soundtrack album
The Fountain (2006) soundtrack album
Mr. Beast (2006)
The Hawk Is Howling (2008)
Special Moves (2010) live album
Mogwai: iTunes Festival (2011) live album
Les Revenants (2013) soundtrack album
Rave Tapes (2014)
Central Belters (2015) compilaton album
Atomic (2016) soundtrack album

LINKS

Discography
their official site
Mogwai on Facebook
Interview