Mogwai

    Mr. Beast

    9
    Matador Records - March 7, 2006

    They
    sit upon high slinging thunder and lightning down at us, with a sound
    so engrossing and powerful that it can lead listeners — those in the
    proper mindset — to that rare decapitation of consciousness through
    music that few acts can deliver. Walk around town listening to any of
    Mogwai’s louder releases on headphones and it’s hard not to feel as
    detached from the masses as our old pal Meursault from The Stranger.

    [more:]

     

    The band’s patented soft-to-hard-to-soft schizophrenia that had been left out in the cold on its past two releases, Rock Action (2001) and to a lesser extent Happy Songs For Happy People, is back in action for the Scottish five-piece’s fifth album, Mr. Beast.
    But unlike previous releases, when we were taken on several rides
    within a solitary track, the thrills and tempo changes have been
    stretched out to album length, making this offering essentially a
    forty-three-minute song, with each track becoming a spike or dip along
    the way.

     

    If Mr. Beast
    were a Hollywood epic, opener “Auto Rock” would set the stage for the
    initial, gory battle scene. A suspense-building piano riff, played by
    the always-outspoken Barry Burns (recently chastising James Blunt and
    Chris Martin), is pinned to an electronic tide that rises to the
    foreground as the song progresses. Drummer Martin Bulloch’s syncopated
    pounding leads up to the anticipated battle, which plays out with
    barbaric, guitar-heavy grandeur on “Glasgow Mega Snake.”

     

    It
    might be easy to feel underwhelmed by the quiet, pedal steel flaunting
    (yes pedal steel) balladry of “Acid Food,” which sees one of those rare
    Mogwai moments when someone actually lends vocals to the mix, in this
    case guitarist Stuart Braithwaite. From there, a more laid-back sound
    persists until the sky cracks back open midway through the eighth
    track, “Folk Death 95,”
    (Right Click Save As) and the five horsemen of the apocalypse
    reemerge. “I Chose Horses” lets us catch our breath again with a
    minimal, spacey arrangement designed by guest keyboardist Craig
    Armstrong and featuring another guest, singer Tetsuya Fukagawa of Rock
    Action Record’s Envy, whose whispering of Japanese sweet nothings lulls us into a state of unready for the face-melting finale, “We’re No Here.”

     

    “He who makes a beast
    of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” That quote, by Dr.
    Samuel Johnson, was fit to lead off Hunter S. Thompson’s classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,
    and taking in this latest release, serves well as a metaphorical
    summation of Mogwai’s work. And I’m not just saying that because the
    album is titled Mr. Beast.

     


    Discuss this review at The Prefix Message Board   

    Mogwai Web Site

    Matador Records Web Site

    “Hunted by a Freak” video

    Prefix review: Mogwai [Ten Rapid] by Dave Mount

    Prefix review: Mogwai [Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003] by Etan Rosenbloom

    Prefix interview: Mogwai [Beautiful noise] by Kevin Dolak

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