Thursday, 25 September 2008

Review - Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling

Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling

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8 out of 10

Mogwai have been mining their own private and very profitable seam of messianic mayhem since the mid-1990s and this, their sixth full-on long-player, sees their sculptural flow of ideas and atmospheres continue. At their best, this band can produce the nearest music gets to levitation and are a rarity in the instrumental rock world in that overt visuals such as back-projections or films are not necessary to be fully swept away. And yet they remain firmly rooted in the real world. I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead is a subtle herald, sparse piano gently moving the listener into a state of security, ready for the brontozoid riffs of Batcat to send criticism cowering into its own triviality. From then on, it's like listening to a Michelangelo (the sculptor, not the guitar-widdling hairbag or the cartoon turtle).

For the uninitiated, this album is as good a place to start the Mogwai experience as any - which speaks volumes. How many other bands can have the same said about their work after nearly fifteen years? There's no danger of this opus getting much daytime radio play, however. There can't be many stations willing to give I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School a spin, for example. I'm sure that bothers the band enormously, as a worm bothers a supernova. All the titles are obscure, of course, and it's a hope that I Love You. is a retort to the mainstream mantra of 'gotta break America, gotta break America'. And would it be too much to speculate that The Sun Smells Too Loud is about the infamous, skanky red-top? Hopefully not.

So, enough rapture. Smuggle your music box with this album into a sensory-deprivation chamber and give your soul a treat.


1. I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
2. Batcat
3. Danphe and the Brain
4. Local Authority
5. The Sun Smells Too Loud
6. Kings Meadow
7. I Love You, I'm Going To Blow up Your School
8. Scotland's Shame
9. Thank You Space Expert
10. The Precipice

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