Mogwai - Does Isolation Make The Best Art?

Written by Alan McGee
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Mogwai's The Hawk is Howling is fantastic. I've had it on repeat since Stuart sent me a copy in August 2008 . With this album and their tour with the mighty Fuck Buttons, they're set to own September 2009.

I managed Mogwai for a couple of years and, as people, they are funny guys, known for their antics. Who can forget the "Blur: are shite" t-shirts? Or, for that matter, the bile-fuelled rants at Pitchfork, James Blunt, Annie Lennox or the tragic break-up of Test-Icicles?

Mogwai are always bemused by the world outside of Mogwai. In fact, I think they took the idea of Team Mogwai (from their debut) seriously - they wanted to be in a gang and they are, albeit a gang of Glaswegian piss-takers who happen to be very serious about their music.

In May, they reissued Mogwai Young Team, their debut record that sent everyone over the superlative edge in 1997. The release of these two albums, almost back to back, is a not-so-subtle reminder that Mogwai are the United Kingdom's premier art-rock act.

Every record, every show, is a surround-sound, heavy experience: from the super intense Mogwai Young Team to the more electronic Happy Songs for Happy People and the brutal Mr Beast.

Mogwai exist in an isolated Mogwai world and that's why they've outlived "post-rock" and other media tags. They make their music and their moves in a punk-rock fashion, serving their music and not trends. I keep coming back to the point of isolation because I believe that isolation makes for the best art.

Each release takes on board eclectic influences, from the super stoner-rock of Black Sabbath, Om and Sleep to the post-punk of New Order, the Cure and Joy Division, and quiet freedom in repetition motifs (as pioneered by Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Brian Eno).

The favoured adjective when describing Mogwai is "cinematic". The band take sound composition seriously and their recent soundtrack work has left a mark on The Hawk is Howling. Each track projects imaginary films into your head. The filmic appeal is present in the spiritual uplift of the baroque Thank You Space Expert, the shimmering space rock of I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead, or the endless space boogie of Danphe and the Brain.

In case you forget that Mogwai is all about the rock, Batcat will remind you immediately: a propulsive number reminiscent of Dopesmoker by Sleep. An electronic element is also played out on many songs, with Stupid Prick Gets Chased by the Police and Loses His Slut Girlfriend (from the Batcat EP) marrying the minimal bleep bleakness of a Kompakt or Cluster record to their sound.

Mogwai even participated in the resurrection of (13th Floor Elevators) Roky Erickson's recording career with their collaboration on Devil Rides, a fitting, creepy-crawly tribute to the psychedelic legend that closed the Batcat EP.

No wonder Mogwai's music has brought them the respect of the Cure and the Pixies (both of whom brought them along on tour) and constant accolades which are much deserved. The Hawk is Howling is another artistic peak - a beautiful, instrumental protest record for people who don't enjoy being told what to feel.

© Words – Alan McGee (Original article appeared in The Guardian – Used by Kind permission)

Read 4632 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:37
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Alan McGee

Alan McGee

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ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


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