Mogwai's Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996-1997)
contains a number of recordings from the band's early days, when they were a four piece composed of Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison, John Cummings and Martin Bulloch. While the record is more a compilation disc than a proper album, it maintains a sense of continuity that makes it just as listenable and realised as any of the band's later efforts.
The album was released on Mogwai's own imprint label, Rock Action Records, though tracks 1, 5 & 6 had been released previously on Lovetrain
and recorded by Paul Savage at MGM. Tracks 2 & 8 had been released previously on Wurlitzer Jukebox
as well as being recorder by Andy Miller.
The first track on Ten Rapid
, Summer begins with building and fading noise before restarting with a slow melody into the rise & fall style that the band have been so successful with. The soft melody alternates between a xylophone and electric guitar, before returning to a heavier section of crashing chords each time. Just past the three minute mark the song introduces the tremolo picked high guitar chords that will become a common feature in their heavier songs, before fading out on the original melody.
A good song for sure, good for introducing someone to the style of the band as well as it being interesting to see the trademarks of their style developing right at the start of their career.
#2 New Paths To Helicon, Part 2
Calming down, this song picks back up after Summer
's fade-out into a slow guitar-led melody over a relaxed drum line. There's no build-up to speak of in this song, none of the quiet-loud dynamic that typifies many of their other efforts, instead there is just a long stretch of guitar melodies returning to the same theme.
A great instrumental track, short enough not to get too repetitive. Pretty stripped back instrumentation for Mowgai, and it works really well. One of their better songs, to me.
#3 Angels Vs Aliens
Fading in slowly over the first minute, this track begins with delayed guitars until the rest of the band (including vocals, which enter with reverse-delay at first - it's actually really cool how the straight vocals are mixed in over the reversed ones). When the lyrics are done, the song starts to build with guitar and bass over a tom-heavy drum line, until the feature part of the song kicks in - a big hit of chimes over hugely distorted guitar noise, which I'm guessing leads to the name of the song. Goes on like this for a good long time keeping the chime melody while the guitar is eaten alive by feedback underneath. They stick with this for a few minutes until ending on the chimes.
Maybe not the most listenable track out of all of them, but it's an interesting listen and worth hearing for that.
#4 Ithica 27ø9
Picking up pretty quickly, this track fades into a recognisably Mogwai chord progression over some clever rise & fall work on the drums, building up steadily with guitars over the second minute to head into the most recognisably Mogwai part of the disc so far, a tremolo guitar heavy section that gives way back to the softer melody of earlier on and ending on that.
One of my favourites on the disc, it shows off the Mogwai quiet/loud dynamic in a real short setting rather than a sprawling post-rock effort like on later discs. One of the interesting things about Ten Rapid
is the relatively short song length - nothing exceeding 6:00.
This was the first track Mogwai ever released as a single on their Rock Action Records label. A quiet song again, with a similar dynamic to New Paths To Helicon, Part 2
, except with the addition of lyrics in the softly-spoken vocal style that they have used a good few times since. Not too much to talk about in terms of the music, a simple song but a nice listen.
I always like the Mogwai songs with vocals, and this is a great one. If you like the song Cody
from Come On Die Young
then there's a good probability that you'll like this one too.
#6 I Am Not Batman
In contrast to the previous song, this one kicks off with noise and occassional feedback that may endanger family pets at high volume. Most of the sounds come from scraping on strings and miscellaneous noises, with some faint vocals over the top that I can't quite make out. They give way to some more noises and a recurring few guitar notes before fading out on noise.
#7 A Place For Parks
Continuing on, the faint vocals (sounding a lot like a conversation between the band) come back over a relaxed guitar melody that is reminiscent again of New Paths To Helicon, Part 2
. Continues like that for the duration.
A nice song, doesn't do a lot and may not really go anywhere, but it's a nice listen and that's all the counts. On a pretty unrelated note, it reminds of the track Monologue
by Scared Of Horses
#8 New Paths To Helicon, Part 1
The longest track on the disc at 6:00, it starts slowly over the first minute with a repeated guitar motif while percussion and some more guitar fade in gradually. Some nice delays on the guitar make for a nice relaxed melody again in the vein of tracks #2 and #7. Simple variations on the guitar melody move the song along nicely without breaking up the mood, but if you listen you'll hear the song has been building up the whole way. A drum fill and a short rest, and everything comes back in with more intensity - the same basic melody and chords but with much more density and drive. Settling back into the quiet half of the dynamic, the song fades out quietly with the guitars over the next two minutes.
This song is really great, and I see it as a preview of the style that would be seen on later albums with Ex-Cowboy
, You Don't Know Jesus
, and Superheroes Of BMX
. Really nice stuff, and finishes the disc up nicely.
The outro of #8 moves disturbingly seamlessly into this track considering it was a compilation album and I don't think the tracks would have been planned to work well together - nice work on the tracklist, whoever is responsible, is my guess. If it sounds familiar, it should, because it is New Paths To Helicon, Part 2
heard in reverse. Clever stuff, fun to hear.
So, there you go, that's Ten Rapid
for you. It's a really great disc, and if you're well into Mogwai then I think you'd find it a really interesting listen, it has some great songs on it and as an album it flows through nicely, suspiciously nicely for a compilation of early recordings. As a whole it is a solid record, with only one or two tracks that won't get much listening. The rest are definately worth hearing and this disc deserves a place in your Mogwai collection every bit as much as the other albums do - nothing bad comes from giving this a listen.