Music – at its very best - has always been about tension and release; of building up to the point where you either peak and go nowhere or of blasting off to the next level of joy, energy and bliss. And Mogwai know this most than more bands.
Of course, it’s all too easy to speak of Mogwai in terms of quiet and loud dynamics, not least as there’s so much more to them. Over the course of 20 years, Mogwai have navigated a route that has seen them deviate on more than one occasion from what you might expect of the post-rock template. And so it proves with their new album, the pun-laden Every County’s Sun, that sees them re-united with producer Dave Fridmann and their exploration of the textures and layers that make up much of today’s live session at the BBC’s studios in Maida Vale.
Guitars still remain at the forefront of Mogwai’s sound. Stuart Braithwaite frequently teases and caresses his strings before letting rip but as evidenced on the band’s re-visitation of Rave Tapes’ ‘Remurdered’, Mogwai are more than happy to lean more heavily on keyboards. As ever with Mogwai, orthodoxy is something to be eschewed and trampled on.
Winding their way through their set, Mogwai take this audience on a 60-minute journey that’s more of an active than passive experience. With no vocals – the sweet alt.pop of ‘Party In The Dark’ being the exception – there’s so much more to take in. ‘Coolverine’ is an invitation to close one’s eyes and set sail on waters that alternately lap and lash before gently returning to shore.
As ever with Mogwai, there are moments that can be relied upon. Witness the still muscular ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’, the very definition of tension and release. Stand-in drummer Cat Myers, parachuted in from Glasgow punks Honeyblood, is absolutely on point as she ushers the band from sonic heights to beatific calm before exploding again with all the force of a supernova.
In the final analysis, Mogwai are simply the best in breed. Aided and abetted by the BBC’s sound technicians, this is an exemplary display of a band not content to rest on its laurels but to keep pushing forward