thanks to richard lewis, who also added:
best quote of the evening from stuart after the show, "was it loud enough? we were worried
that it wouldn't be loud enough."
preview from the 'new times la'|
recently in london, while djing at the hip social bar, mogwai's stuart braithwaite spent part of the
evening patrolling the room, proclaiming love's forever changes one of the greatest albums ever made. anyone who didn't agree...well,
supposedly heated words were passed and the threat of fisticuffs was not far behind.
no doubt this episode can be partially attributed to the odd ale or two, and to some famous scottish belligerence, but it's also evidence of
the all-encompassing passion that braithwaite and mogwaibring to their music. everything is black and
white -- there are no gray areas. this intensity comes through in their records, and particularly their live shows, where it is not uncommon to see
braithwaite writhing about the stage, or thrusting his guitar against the amplifier to generate every possible shred of screaming noise.
in mogwai'sworld, the spirit of forever changes and the beach boys' pet sounds hangs heavy. maybe
not in sing-along harmonies, but with the lack of boundaries, the experimentation that goes into the music.
mogwaimay tread familiar territory, but at the same time they take you one step over the edge. think slint,
but more epic; low, but more obtuse; godspeed you black emperor, but more earthy.
this week's show is the first chance to sample tracks from mogwai'snew album, rock action, due in april.
working again with producer dave fridmann (also behind the flaming lips and mercury rev's recent sonic symphonies), the band have created
their most concise and accomplished work yet. from the welsh vocals by super furry animals' gruff rhys on "dial: revenge" to the eight-minute
epic "you don't know jesus," rock action really is (to use stuart's words) "spastic magic." like all mogwai's
performances, this one guarantees to be both thrilling and obtuse. but remember, if you're not a fan of forever changes, you'd best keep it a
by jason reynolds
visit the website
thanks to tom sparkle astroman
from richard lewis:
"was it loud enough? we were afraid it wouldn't be loud enough."
or so guitarist stuart braithwaite worried when i talked to him briefly
after the show. having seen the mostly instrumental scottish band mogwai
twice now in a live venue, i think it's finally dawned on me why it's
important that the band's shows be so phenomenally loud.
mogwai understand musical dynamics and tension. and through volume, their
music is told as physical experience. it comes down to the difference
between intellectualizing about something and fully undergoing it
it's one thing to wax poetic about, say, the composer antheil and his
conceptual modernism for including airplane engines in his ballet
mechanique. it's another thing entirely to stand with your hair permanently
flattened against your scalp as the blast from a jet engine flings you like
a ragdoll down the runway.
there is a precision and a wildness in mogwai as placid and dangerous as
gunmetal grey. listening to a song like "christmas steps" from their album
'come on die young' (editor's note: apparently a handy phrase to yell at an
assailant if you're about to get in a fight in scotland) is a very safe
experience when you're at home and in control of the volume knob and the
translated to a live venue, you lose that control. you're lulled into a
false sense of calmness by the near-casual noodling warmth as the opening
guitar tones cook around you. you begin breathing more rapidly, more
heavily as the thick, ominous bass line skewers you as simply as john
williams's famous theme from the movie 'jaws'. you become momentarily
disoriented when the quickening, thudding bass shatters into fractured
rhythm and flinch you're startled by feedback so loud that it rattles your
teeth, rearranges your inner organs, and loosens your joints with sound.
when you know to expect the intensity, it's fascinating to watch the
reaction of those around you in the audience. the response to mogwai live
is far more deeply physical than mental. it is almost a primal response.
and perhaps that explains the story i've heard going around concerning an
early mogwai show in glasgow in which two concertgoers were so overcome
with mogwai's sonic power that they were caught, er, shagging in the back
of the venue.
there was no shagging to be seen among the sold-out crowd at the el rey
theatre this night. but judging from the expressions on the faces of the
crowd standing behind me during the encore as the simple melody of the
adapted jewish hymn alvainu malkanu gradually built hypnotically,
repetitively into such roaring waves that the bodies in the room were
shaken like instruments for nearly 20 minutes, ecstasy was achieved
don't worry, stuart. it was loud enough.