Mogwai (UK)

The name Mogwai is often associated with post rock movement; over the years, they have even been dubbed one of the flagbearers of the genre. Post rock easily escapes all definitions, but it can widely be understood as a variable collection of alternative approaches to how songs are arranged and played out, as well as an aim to find inspiration from somewhere beyond the usual suspects of tradition and heritage. This sums up nicely the essence of this independent-minded Scottish band – and yet there is so much more to them too.

This Glaswegian combo, founded already in 1996, still remains true to their tried and tested quiet-loud-quiet dynamics – even if played live, this alternation often reads more like quiet-pretty damn loud. The passionate noise is compensated with alluring melodies, and instead of hair-rising speed you get rewarded for patience: for Mogwai, a great song can just as well be a two-minute sound weave as a ten-minute hypnosis session.

One more thing worth noting in Mogwai's music is that here human voice is a carefully applied special effect. Instrumental music in general is eternally trying to find ways to keep the attention that is not directly grabbed by lyrics or the presence of a vocalist. But this band can tell more stories with its five-instrument sound wall than a mediocre singer churning out banalities ever could. Mogwai's music goes to show that even the familiar rock'n'roll instruments are capable of creating a feel that sucks you in and takes you over when for once they are treated with a bit more imagination than is usually the case. With Mogwai, there will be cathartic guitar cacophony and heart-burstingly beautiful soundscapes, one following the other and sometimes even simultaneously. Controversy-loving Mogwai is a source of inspiration for both indie kids and modern metalheads.

Black Scottish humour and the band's down-to-earth attitude help in keeping the priorities clear: Mogwai's mission is not to pose, but to keep their music alive and ever so recognisable. The year 2008 is going to see another Mogwai album, a follower of the 2006's Zidane soundtrack and very favourably reviewed Mr. Beast, also from 2006, a decisive move towards somewhat louder rock'n'roll.

Oh yes, the band's name has indeed been borrowed from those hairy creatures in Joe Dante's Gremlins. Even if the creepy-crawlies in the film are famous for their allergy to sunshine, we doubt that not even the brightness of Finnish summer day is enough to ruin that unique suspense that Mogwai's presence creates.

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