Especial Mogwai. Nuestras 11 canciones favoritas y su intrahistoria a través de desconocidos.

Mogwai fear Satan.

Mogwai Fear Satan es una composición perfecta, es Mogwai mirando a la cara del demonio; es LA canción de Mogwai. A pesar de que sea del debut, han compuesto muy buenas canciones después, clásicos del post rock, pero ninguna llega a la magnificencia de esta. No sólo son los tintes grandilocuentes de la canción, es la narrativa que evoca solamente con el título y con la estructura del tema. Hablando en términos de post rock, presenta la típica arquitectura sonora de ruido-calma-ruido, el clásico golpe que te noquea después de la tranquilidad. El caso es que antes de este, Mogwai dejan la canción bajo mínimos, casi en coma, para después arremeterte con toda la violencia que pueden. Y por supuesto, no sólo hay que tener en cuenta la espectacularidad del subidón, sino la armonía con la que aumenta la canción poco a poco, en armonía (incluso la batería) y con un aumento sostenido. Después de la explosión viene la calma tras el fragor de la batalla, con esa preciosa y a la vez épica sección de viento, que va muriendo poco a poco mientras escuchas los últimos gruñidos de las guitarras. Una canción sobrenatural.

Closing track on their 1997 debut album Mogwai Young Team. In a 1998 interview guitarist (and de facto band spokesman) Stuart Braithwaite revealed that the title was a reference to bassist Dominic Aitchison's fear of the devil, stemming from his Catholic upbringing.
"Mogwai Fear Satan, because it's everything great and good about Mogwai. Loud-quiet-loud, soaring, magnificent" @MikeyR20
"It's pretty much a mission statement in musical form" @scribbler81

I am trying to balance this list between canonical and personal favourites while still giving a overall introduction to Mogwai, and I will admit part of me wanted to pick any number of songs off of Young Team instead of this 16-minute behemoth, not because it’s not amazing (it is) or because it’s not beloved (check) and still performed regularly by the band (ditto). It’s just such an obvious pick that it might actually be the boring one for fans of the group. The recording sessions from the band’s debut were fraught enough that there was a fear it would be their finale as well. Pseudonyms were adopted, tattoos inscribed, and afterwards Brendon O’Hare would depart to be replaced with Barry Burns. So the title of “Mogwai Fear Satan” is slightly less figurative than you might think (although this is also a band that loves to take the piss, especially with song titles; bassist Dominic Aitchison’s childhood nightmares about the devil comes into play here too). Especially at the time most of the talk about Mogwai centred around the sheets of guitar noise and the explosive power of the band, but it’s worth noting just how much mileage “Mogwai Fear Satan” gets out of the rhythmic heart drummer Martin Bulloch gives the track, as well as the way additional musician Shona Brown’s flute gives the song’s long, dying passages after its explosions a lovely, mournful air.


New paths to Helicon (Part 1)

No 2 in John Peel's 1997 Festive 50. Available on singles compilation Ten Rapid, with a live version included on Government Commissions, a collection of their BBC sessions.
"Simple, seminal and loud/quiet, with an enigmatic ending" @gralegav

 These days the Ten Rapid compilation is a little overlooked in Mogwai’s discography, but there’s a reason this song, originally from the band’s New Paths to Helicon 7”, has been preserved on the group’s live albums. Most of this early singles compilation is made up of enjoyably scrappy little bursts of noise, but “Helicon 1” (named after the mountain where two springs sacred to the Muses are) is utterly majestic. With a structure like its namesake, “Helicon 1” ascends to a peak and then falls away afterwards, and, as gorgeous as the intro and outro are, that peak by itself offers ample evidence for the idea that, as someone would say on their first album proper, “Music is bigger than words and wider than pictures.”


Stop coming coming to my house

I still remember the first time I heard “Stop Coming To My House.” Ever seen that Pale Blue Dot video, based on Carl Sagan’s monologue about the awesome inconsequence of earth? Mogwai’s closer to Happy Songs For Happy People was the perfect match. I recall my surprise after it so happened that Mogwai -a.k.a. that band I had associated completely with everything inoffensive and generic- were the culprits behind the track. Credit where credit’s due, though. And it wasn’t Mogwai’s last surprise. Hardcore Will Never Die, flawed as it may be, was evidence that the band’s engine was still running. There was a bombastic We can still invert our entire fucking aesthetic if we want to vibe on their previous record. It was heartening, it was exciting, it was Mogwai still managing to surprise me.

 But you’re going to have such similarities if you’re Mogwai, if only because you’re refusing to have the added distraction of vocals mess with your minor symphonies. And there are, of course, songs that sound unlike anything the band has ever done before. The shoegazer-friendly “Moses? I Amn’t” and “Stop Coming to My House” are bracing experiments in density, especially the latter tune, which piles noise and instrument atop each other until a critical mass tears the whole thing to pieces almost five minutes later.


Travel is dangerous

The song "Travel Is Dangerous" is one of the few Mogwai songs to have lyrics, and also appears as track #4 on their 2006 album Mr. Beast. It is speculated that this song is about the sinking of the Russian submarine K-141 Kursk in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000.

Who might know of this
The notes we left
Our final thoughts
And we knew they'd get us out


Drowned by her country
Old and she is cursed
And forgotten
Never surface again

The air runs out
The captain is first
So we take to memories
And layers of clothes
Up there the family waits
And outside we heard hammers
Noises sound like the end
And we will never see them


Drowned by her country
Graved and she is cursed
Old and rotten
Never surface again


Glasgow mega snake

Una de las mejores canciones cortas de Mogwai, que puede funcionar tremendamente bien en los temas de bajo minutaje. Se aleja de los frecuentes caminos del slow core para convertirse en un inmediato alegato por las guitarras pesadas, exhibiendo músculo y sin necesidad de allanar el camino para después fusilarte. El minuto final es tremendo, con toda la maquinaria puesta al límite, vomitando todo el sonido vigoroso que son capaces de emitir.

 "Sounds like the third world war breaking out just above your stereo." @robinturner

 Mr Beast was Mogwai’s third consecutive sub-45-minute album and in some ways it felt like a back-to-basics one. The sound was harsher than Happy Songs for Happy People and the structures slightly more conventional than Rock Action. The stirring, piano-led single “Friend of the Night” suggested that maybe this Mogwai album would be downright decorous. And there are certainly some tracks that compellingly restrained (in a tense way, not an out-of-gas one) but the album also featured songs like “Glasgow Mega-Snake”, a crisp, compact rager that might have been the closest the band had gotten to full-on heavy metal. Mogwai hadn’t cut loose and gone for it this directly since maybe “Summer” on Young Team and even that song had more quiet/loud dynamics than “Glasgow Mega-Snake”. A surprising amount of Mogwai’s strength comes from the way they don’t go immediately for the jugular a lot of the time, but as this song shows, they can be unnervingly effective when doing just that.

"Glasgow Mega-Snake" is a live favourite. It originally had the working title of "Glower of a Cat". Stuart Braithwaite has commented on the song, saying

Glasgow megasnake' was previously known as 'glower of a cat'

 "glasgow mega-snake", where what must surely be a dozen guitars swarm around a molten metal core like crazed killer bees, the drum machine-driven country gospel of "acid food," which features pedal-steel guitar


I´m Jim Morrison, I´m dead.

Opening track from 2008 album The Hawk Is Howling. The Guardian's review described the song as "a requiem of lost promise but few regrets … the backward guitar notes slipping and sliding like the Doors singer in his final bath."
"Has all aspects of Mogwai's brilliance: piano, noise, guitars, contrast" @MrsRF

 I confess to being at a bit of a loss when it comes to The Hawk Is Howling; it’s easily my least-favourite Mogwai album, but it’s also one that (as far as I can tell) garnered them lots of new fans and is much beloved by plenty of people. Even more vexing, there’s nothing I can put my finger on that leads me to dislike it. I may in fact be falling prey to the same thing early fans did with Come on Die Young; it’s their longest and most deliberately paced album in years. I’ve slowly come around to it a bit since 2008; it’s not as if it sounds bad, I just rarely feel the urge to play it. “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead” made a lot more sense to me once I heard the band play it live, as the opening song to their set. Cranking the noise and the tension up more and more until the whole thing cracks open with a surprising little piano figure floating above the glowering bad vibes of the rest of the track, it makes for a fantastic overture. Even if the song weren’t great (and it is, although I’m still reserving judgment on much of the album), it lead to one of the all-time great band t-shirts, which counts for something.

 �i�m jim morrison, i�m dead�. despite the irreverent title (and mogwai love an intriguing title, especially one that hoodwinks the listener), this is a poignant tune, but it is the calm before the storm of �batcat�, a ferocious and heartfelt thrash that harks back to the early �gonzo� mogwai of albums such as �ten rapid� and �young team�. 

 �the hawk is howling� opens with the magnificent �i�m jim morrison, i�m dead�, beginning as simple piano and guitar before the instrumentation fills out two minutes in as a series of dreamy chord changes set to a ghostly backdrop. the drums and cymbals build slowly to a climax; a mood drenched melody of keys, guitars, drums and ultimately a swathe of squealing strings. the chaotic ending, cumulating with a cartoon sound of a television set being switched off at the socket, is meticulously planned. it is what we expect - no demand - from the opening track of a new mogwai album. 



En 1997 Mogwai debutaban con Young Team, un señor debut de post rock en el que sentaban las bases para que empezaras tu inexorable camino hacia la sordera. La culpa la tenían sus guantazos sonoros, que golpeaban con más violencia que Frederic Tatum. Entre varios de los grandes temas de este disco, uno que me llamó especialmente la atención la primera vez que lo escuché fue este, en el que el bajo va marcando la línea que ha de seguir la demolición que en breve te va a estallar en la cara. Es una de esas explosiones furiosas en las que después no queda nada. Canción para arrasarlo todo, como la onda expansiva que se imagina Sarah Connor en Terminator II.

"Summer" could be described as Mogwai's equivalent of a pop song. The original version of "Summer" is still played live regularly, whereas the Priority Version, while not usually played live anymore, used to be played live quite commonly in the late 1990s. The piece was originally titled "Martin", most likely after Mogwai drummer Martin Bulloch. "Summer" could possibly be the first Mogwai composition ever written because the 1995 Deadcat Motorbike demos (Stuart Braithwaite's previous band) contain a track labelled "Summer".

The version of "Summer" which appeared on the band's 1997 debut album, Mogwai Young Team, entitled "Summer (Priority Version)" was first played live for a Peel session in late 1996. Stuart Braithwaite has commented on this version of the piece, saying:

The track begins with a quiet recording of the chorus of "Summer", with lots of reverb. At (0:40), it fades out and the bass riff of "Summer" kicks in, accompanied by an Organ. At (0:54), it is joined by the drums, and a glockenspiel playing the melody. At (1:24), the distorted guitars are brought in, playing a heavily distorted E5 chord along with heavy drumming. At (1:30), the quiet glockenspiel melody returns briefly, before being drowned out at (1:36) by the guitars playing the E5 chord. This is followed at (1:42), by a guitar solo, played by Stuart Braithwaite, with the glockenspiel playing along. At (2:13), there is another heavily distorted guitar section, followed by a brief return to the glockenspiel melody, and then back to the guitar section. At (2:43), a similar guitar solo is played, until (3:00), when all the instruments begin playing frantically and heavily, until (3:28), when another guitar section is played. At (3:45), the glockenspiel melody is played one last time, accompanied by organ and drums, until (4:09), when everything finishes playing, except the organ, which slowly fades out.


I know you are but what am I?

 i know you are but what am i?", five minutes of funeral piano chords, glockenspiel highlights and reversed drums.

Sees digital beats cascading around lonely piano stabs.

'i know you are but what am i?' is a case in point, a lonesome piano meets a static drumbeat, looks for relief, but backs away at the last minute. it's clever, simplistic and wonderfully controlled all at the same time. 

  "i know you are...", meanwhile, is simply stunning : a sparse piano arrangement and a broken drum machine operating on the bluest of hues, original and moving to the end. highly recommended. 


Hunted by a freak

Recuerdo que el año pasado, mientras íbamos en el coche camino al BBK, cuando dejó de sonar Hunted By A Freak un amigo comentó: "joder, esto te absorbe". Y eso es, básicamente, lo que consiguen Mogwai en este tema. Una canción que te atrapa y no te deja escapar, gracias a los acordes hipnóticos de las guitarras, la densidad de sus distorsiones y, de nuevo, el vocoder. No es una canción especialmente espectacular, pero los efectos que produce son infalibles, como si fuese una canción de otro mundo.

 "hunted by a freak" sounds like a track lifted off the new radiohead album, a staggered pace and some treated echoes of vocal enveloping a lush arrangement of strings and ambience, gorgeous stuff


Friend of the night

 If I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, it would be this. It is so important to me, and there's no other song that can stir up such emotion, flood my mind with feeling or take me back to times and places. There's actually a little anxiety when I choose to play this track because I know just how much it's going to shake me up, and it frightens me. This song resonates with me personally, for reasons I won't go into, but let's just say that to me this song is equal with one thing: hope.

 just saw mogwai live. this song may have been the greatest experience of my life. i mean, i was expecting it to be one of the better live songs, but it seriously moved me to tears. everyone in the world needs this album. best since "young team," and honestly, it might be surpassing it in my mind the more i listen to it. man. every song on mr. beast is a pure work of insanely amazing unique art. "friend of the night" is definitely my favourite track.


The sun smells too loud.

The title "The Sun Smells Too Loud" is evocative of the psychological disorder known as "synesthesia," in which a person senses stimulus in a cross-sensory way. A person with synesthesia might perceive the letter "V" as being "purple," or might associate the smell of fish with a train whistle, or might think that the taste of green beans feels scratchy, or other random sensory non sequitur.
 "The Sun Smells Too Loud" is the fifth track on the sixth studio album by Mogwai. Typical of Mogwai tunes, it's pure instrumental, is credited to the entire group, and runs a leisurely time of 6:58.


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