Mogwai steamroller pre-conceived Mogwai notions


Gimme Noise is always surprised when new Mogwai albums are announced. Shocked, really. Why? Because every successive Mogwai album, while narrowly and fleetingly satisfying, isn't doesn't represent a significant stylistic leap from the Mogwai album that proceeded it. (Possible exception that kinda proves the rule: 2001's surprisingly tender, folk-tinged Rock Action.) So after ever new outing, I always expect them to call it a day.

[jump] If you've heard this Glasgow-based quartet strut its stuff at any point in the decade and change since they dynamited indiedom's collective minds with Mogwai Young Team -- and if you somehow haven't, do yourself a solid and start with that one first -- I'll clue you in on the formula: moody, quiet-to-loud-to-quiet-to-LOUD post-rock that ebbs and flows like an ocean tide. Their aesthetic carries a definitively out-to-sea vibe, the idea that no other music or people or place or anything else whatsoever exists in the universe except for you and the album.

Sometimes there are hair-raising vocoder'd vocals burrowing through the mix. Sometimes the music takes on a gooey, irradiated glow. Sometimes the guitars hit like earthquakes, guitars strung with granite.

Sometimes the axs are resolutely heavy-metal. Sometimes all elements are swept away save one or two. Sometimes synthesizers are involved.

Generally, though, it's pretty much impossible to feel truly surprised by new Mogwai albums (even though they somehow manage to survive my frequent strapped-for-cash CD-collection purges).

Until now. Now -- in advance of the forthcoming, fractiously-titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (Sub Pop) -- there is "Rano Pano."

Distorted, serrated guitar chords as big and bold as the HOLLYWOOD sign, with a chugging bass line and in-the-pocket drum beat to match.

A chilling, dehumanized synth-vocal chorus strung throughout.

A voluptuously swinging gait. Alien giants-on-a-rampage pomp and circumstance. A new lease on life.

This song shreds. It flexes. Punches out the fixtures. Smacks you around a little. Calls attention to itself.

In the past, Mogwai standards fit seamlessly into the soundtracks of movies like Miami Vice and television shows like CSI: Miami. What do music supervisors do with the likes of "Rano Pano"? I mean, this is monster-truck/Grand Guignol post-rock. cathedrals-burning-in-Technicolor post-rock, Olympic-torch-held-aloft-in-slow-motion post-rock.

And it's awesome; it's Mogwai change you can almost believe in, even though my biggest fear is that the rest of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will will sound completely different.