Posts Tagged ‘Mogwai’

Synergy

Friday, January 12th, 2001

Holy shit: I just want to clarify that I wrote yesterday’s bit about Mogwai BEFORE I read this.

Love, love is a verb
Love is a doing word
Massive Attack, “Teardrop”

What’s spinning, January 11 edition

Thursday, January 11th, 2001

Wow, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. I got a bunch of non-prog Christmas loot and am only now getting back to the genre that this site covers, which is a partial explanation for that little hiatus. The other reason is simply that I like to be lazy over Christmas break.

For anyone interested, I re-designed my personal home page in my spare time. Probably isn’t much there of interest, but I figured I’d mention it.

So anyway, what non-prog stuff have I been listening to the most? Let’s see:

  • Grant Green - Idle Moments - nice, melodic, accessible jazz
  • Massive Attack - Mezzanine - sleepy yet engaging
  • Mogwai - Young Team - the first track is absolutely stunning
  • Mogwai - EP+2 - truly a work of genius
  • Squarepusher - Music is Rotted One Note - eh. Quite interesting, but I prefer the MP3s I have from Hard Normal Daddy.
  • STSI, Musicians of - Music of the Gamelan Gong Kebyar - not the best introduction to Balinese gamelan, but not bad overall
  • Sun Ra - When Angels Speak of Love - “sounds like a train wreck”, one of my friends said. I like it.

Why do I like Mogwai so much? I think it’s their potential energy, as I’d put it: that is, most of the time their music is simmering quietly, seeming very relaxed yet also seeming on the verge of exploding into a powerful wall of noise. What should be sleep-inducing actually keeps me on my toes more than lots of other music, just because it seems like things are about to blow up. Also, it seems Mogwai are one of the few bands that realize that loud-fast and soft-slow aren’t the only ways to make music: there are a lot of loud-slow parts that seem novel to me. Some of the feedback manipulation on EP+2 - the last track has a particularly touching bit - almost makes tears come to my eyes, it’s so effective. I really can’t explain it… it’s just that some of their pieces (”Yes! I am a long way from home” from Young Team, or “Rage:Man” and “Small Children in the Background” from EP+2) are some of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long, long time. Funny, I don’t find the same joys in Come On Die Young. I’ll have to give it an extra spin to figure out why.

Mogwai: I’m getting it (thanks to EP+2)

Saturday, December 16th, 2000

I wonder why I’m currently digging Mogwai’s EP+2 so much more than I dug their Come On Die Young when I first heard that one. I think it’s because it’s short: I can only take about half an hour of this kind of slow, dreamy, moody stuff before I start yearning for more action. EP+2 lasts, well, about a half hour. And it’s fucking great.

I’ve only read the introduction to Robert Walser’s Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music, but already I’ve come across a bunch of interesting tidbits. For example, with reference to his musicological discussions of heavy metal music:

Arguing for the worth of popular music in the terms of valuation used for more prestigious music is not without risk: jazz has gained a certain amount of academic respectibility through such toil by its defenders, but at the cost of erasing much of the music’s historical significance, its politics, its basis in non-European modes of musical thinking and doing. (Indeed, this is precisely what has happened to the many different kinds of historical music making that have been collapsed into “classical music” by our century.

I find the comment about jazz curious. I don’t know enough about jazz to know how correct Walser is (after all, that jazz class I took last semester was worthless), but I wonder how discussion of jazz in a context based on Western art-music notation has “erased much of the music’s historical significance”.

Mogwai sample Native American music

Tuesday, November 14th, 2000

Weird, weird, weird coincidence: the sample of the woman singing at the beginning of “oh! how the dogs stack up” from Mogwai’s Come On Die Young is taken from a song used as an example of Native American music in my music cultures class. It is, in fact, a Zuni lullaby, in free meter using only two pitches. An interesting choice for a sample; I’d never noticed it before but when I was listening to the album last night it caught my ear immediately.

Looking over my list of albums released in 2000, I feel somewhat depressed. It has definitely not been a particularly great year. Although Azigza’s self-titled and Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s Lift Your Skinny Fists… mitigate things, overall it’s been pretty mediocre. White Willow gets some props as well for Sacrament, but overall it’s telling that one of my favorites from this year is a reissue: Thinking Plague’s Early Plague Years. Sigh… disappointing, especially after such a very strong 1999 (Duty Free Area, Rituale Alieno, Discus 1st, Kaka, The Hard Quest, and the list stretches on…).

The current issue of The Wire has a great primer on Balinese and Javanese gamelan recordings that might be of interest to listeners of more eclectic contemporary music. I’m going to have to check out a few of the recordings they list - as I stated before, I find some Balinese gamelan to be straight-up ass-kicking stuff.

Latest stroke of luck: I found a copy of Gentle Giant’s Three Friends for $5 at the local used CD store. No big deal, except that it’s the out-of-print pressing on the Line label. Not a bad find, I think…

Prog: the bebop of rock?

Thursday, February 17th, 2000

I like to think of the progressive rock movement as vaguely analogous to the bebop movement. Both see an increase in musical sophistication and roots in a counterculture of some sort. So why was bebop so much more successful? Jazz was as “popular” and “lowbrow” before bebop as rock was before (and, hell, after) progressive rock. I’m just now learning about the history of these musics, so maybe there are answers… but I see these as open questions.

Spinning early this morning:

  • King Crimson - Red - see my note about “Starless” in yesterday’s entry
  • Mogwai - Come On Die Young - very mellow; hasn’t quite gotten through to me yet
  • Pink Floyd - The Final Cut - I have a love-hate relationship with this one…
  • Univers Zero - The Hard Quest - finally growing on me, in a really big way

Through the fish-eyed lens of tearstained eyes
I can barely define the shape of this moment in time
And far from flying high in clear blue skies
I’m spiraling down to the hole in the ground where I hide
Pink Floyd, “The Final Cut”