I once overheard a friend say “crescendo rock” in trying to describe
Mogwai to another friend. I at first thought that limited the
Glaswegian quartet, but now I realize the statement’s accuracy.
Mogwai’s use of the crescendo is signature to its sound, a musical
technique that the band has mastered. It’s their grasp of timing and
ability to construct alluring melodies that enables them to rely on
crescendos often, and it almost never fails. Nowhere is that more
apparent than on Ten Rapid, the band’s 1997 debut, re-issued in 2004 by Jetset.
Ten Rapid is a collection of Mogwai’s earliest singles,
recorded between 1995 and 1997. The songs start out quiet, slow and
melodic, catching the listener’s attention and stirring curiosity. That
gives way to anticipation as the songs slowly build, adding structure
and volume. Just when the tension can’t be piled any higher, the whole
thing comes crashing down in to complete disorder and confusion. The
release is tangible.
The album broke ground when it was released in 1997, but eight years
later it can be seen as an extension of the road paved by artists
including Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine. This reissue validates
the album’s contribution to post-rock and music generally. That these
songs were recorded as singles doesn’t affect the album’s cohesiveness.
Ten Rapid flows as if the songs were meant to be released together.
Like the songs, the album follows a similar pattern, mimicking a
crescendo. Opener “Summer” begins by taunting with a hint of it’s own
crescendo. Next is the slow melody of “Helicon 2,” which bookends the
record, along with “End.” The peak of the crescendo is “Helicon 1,” the
eighth of nine tracks. The songs are multi-layered and complex, and
multiple listens are required to discover all of the subtleties. The
reissue is a reminder to those who have been listening to Mogwai for
years that even more delicate intricacies can be found in the depths of