Friday, 27 August 2010

Review: Mogwai - 'Special Moves'/'Burning'

'This recording is meant to be listened to on vinyl', it states on the back of Slint's 1991 album 'Spiderland'. The same could be said of Mogwai's new live album, 'Special Moves', because the vinyl edition contains six extra tracks which are easily as powerful as the other eleven performances on the CD edition. MP3s of these tracks are downloadable by means of a code supplied with the CD.

This is only half the story, however: 'Special Moves' is accompanied by the live DVD 'Burning'. Both the live album and DVD were recorded over three nights in Booklyn last year, although both feature different track selections and alternative mixes. Shot effectively in grainy black and white, the film does an effective job of capturing what it's like to see the band live (and my ears are still ringing from the volume of the screening in Newcastle several weeks ago).

Mogwai remain one of the very best live bands around, managing to apply the right degree of professionalism to their performances while maintaining a sense of humour about the whole thing. The highlights of this live package are, unsurprisingly, early career highlights 'Mogwai Fear Satan' and 'Cody', but it's also nice to hear tracks from the fantastic 'The Hawk Is Howling': pieces such as
'I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School' which envelop the listener with carefully structured washes of sound.

'Special Moves' and 'Burning' will present no surprises to seasoned Mogwai listeners who have seen the band live before, but they do show that the band are very much alive, comfortable with the legacy of their past and looking to explore new territory on-stage as much as in the studio.

Mogwai are on tour in February next year and are working on a new album at present.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

'This is the first thing' by Philip Larkin

This is the first thing
I have understood:
Time is the echo of an axe
Within a wood.

Philip Larkin, 1943.