Mogwai was formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996 by longtime friends Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison, and Martin Bulloch. Later, John Cummings and Brendan O'Hare would be added to the lineup. Mogwai had built up a pretty extensive collection of music by the time they released their debut LP Young Team
They debuted in March of 1996 with their single "Tuner", and in the next year released 3 other singles, an EP, and various appearances on compilation albums before finally releasing a full length album. Young Team
was a big hit with fans of their early singles, and music critics, and is generally regarded as one of the finest post-rock records. One of the standout tracks on the album was the 16 minute epic "Mogwai Fear Satan", which I only mention because of this records striking similarities.
Mogwai would later release 3 other LP's, Come On, Die Young
, Rock Action
, and Happy Songs for Happy People
. They also released one incredible EP, EP+2
, which contains arguably the greatest Mogwai track, "Stanley Kubrick".
The goal of Mogwai from the beginning was to create "serious guitar music", and as a result their music is filled with layer upon layer of guitar, at times becoming a heavy drone of sound. There are also very few Mogwai songs that contain vocals.
My Father My King
, was billed as a "companion disc" to their 2001 album Rock Action
, but at over 20 minutes in length, and with so many musical changes and moods present, it certainly deserves recognition on it's own. My Father My King
contains just one track of the same name. The melody for the song was taken from a Jewish Rosh Hashanah hymn (which is featured on the album inlay) but, in typical Mogwai style, contains no vocals.
The album gets a nice production job from Steve Albini, and the result is a noise-rock masterpiece in the center of the song, surrounded by tranquility. This is an incredible piece of music that will keep your attention, and although it is unlike anything else Mogwai has done, it shows the bands penchant for arty experimentation.
Stuart Braithwaite - Guitar
Dominic Aitchison - Guitar
John Cummings - Guitar
Martin Bulloch - Drums
Luke Sutherland - Violin
Steve Albini - Engineer, Mastering, Mixing
The song starts off silent, with just the faintest hint of a guitar in the background. Soon another faint guitar enters playing the melody that will become the driving force for the first main chunk of this song. The guitars continue in sort of a dueling fashion as a plodding drum comes in at the 1:30 mark, all the while the guitars are slowly getting louder and louder.
At the 2:15 mark, another guitar comes in to support the melody and plays different variations of the melody almost in a chorus like fashion. The melody continues as a guitar every once in a while will go a little off track and give a little variation.
Up to this point all the guitar strumming has been slow and developing, but at 3:20 a guitar takes off with some heavier faster strumming, giving a ominious tone to the song as if it is building up. Then at the 4 minute mark as if on queue, a heavily distorted noisy guitar explodes into the song. The song begins to take a differen't shape hear, as the strumming is gone and instead there is a just a giant wall of noise. All the while the same melody is playing over top.
At the 5:15 mark the song has deconstructed into a noisefest as there are dueling noisy guitars almost drowning out the melody, and the drums can barely be heard in the background. Then at the 5:45 mark, the seas begin to part as the heavy guitar plays the melody and the noise subsides. Now there is some heavy feedback here, but that quickly gives way to a softer tranquil sound, going back toward the type of sound from the beginning.
At this point it is about a third of the way through the song, and the song sounds like it is about to end as the guitars slowly get softer and softer until they almost go away, and the song deconstructs into what it was in the beginning.
At the 8 minute mark, the song is practically completely silent, with just a faint whisper of that melody which by this point has become very familiar. The song slowly begins to fade back in here with a different melody, and this one is just as nice. In fact I like this one better.
The guitars are joined by the drums again at the 9:15 point, and thee dueling guitars play a fine melody here. Slowly the guitars begin to build on one another again. The melody is shimmering through all the distortion though. The next buildup hits at almost exactly 10 minutes into the song as the guitars get really noisy again. The explosion this time comes at the 10:35 mark.
At the 11 minute mark comes my favorite part of the song. There are heavily distorted guitars playing this one droning riff and variations of it over and over and over. The drumming is really going full force, and the other guitar comes over the top with just this amazing amount of noise. This is surely the climax of the song. This continues for a minute and a half until there are some other nice guitar riffs that come in, all the time competing with just this incredible wall of noise.
The 13:20 mark hits and just when you think it couldn't get heavier, it does. As the guitar gets louder, and there is a screaming guitar riff that drowns out the melody once again. This is shear beauty right here. Those great droning riffs return for a little while, as the song veers off on tangent after tangent, all the while mantaining a certain focus around the melody.
The 15 minute mark comes, and the melody disappears and gives way to swirling and pounding noise producing guitars which engulf the listener. The 16 minute mark gives some signs of decomposing once again as the guitars just take on this wonderful sustained drone and the drums go away, and the sustained drone just gets quieter and quieter and fades out.
At the 17 minute mark it is clear the the climax has been reached and the song needs a certain time period to come back down. This odd droning guitar comes in for a little while (maybe a minute), and it takes center stage as there are no drums or melodic guitar here.
The next minute or so of droning noise is really just a Steve Albini clinic on how to create noise with a guitar. There are sounds that you could never imagine coming from a guitar being heard here, and that is really how the song ends as the song decomposes into one really noisy mess of sound that is just incredible. Your mom won't like this though.
Recommended for fans of:
The Jesus and Mary Chain
My Bloody Valentine