Mogwai – Special Moves (Rock Action) 23/08/2010

August 24, 2010 by  

As Brooklyn appears to be the capital of all things indie-rock these days, it seems rather appropriate that one of the most influential underground rock groups of the past fifteen years have released their first live album, “Special Moves”, in conjunction with their “Burning” DVD, a recording of their three-night residency at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg last year. Glasgow’s Mogwai are now six studio albums into their career, and by releasing a live album, they have shown that they still put every bit of care and attention into performing.

“I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead” and “Friend of the Night” both set the scene nicely as they gradually flow from a gloomy piano into a whirlwind of noise. “Hunted by a Freak” – which is approved by a large applause – is expertly performed and that strange, warped vocoder melody is implemented well within a live setting.

“Cody” brings a more conventional rock direction as it emphasises on vocal melodies rather than use of effects – a rare break from their usual instrumental approach. “2 Rights Make 1 Wrong” features vocoders, slick drum synthesis and crescendo guitars which all build into a devastating distortion-heavy climax.

But the standout track here is clearly the epic “Mogwai Fear Satan”, where the dynamics of this track performed live is incredible; from the eerily quiet breakdown section midway where the overall sound decays into near silence – to when the guitars kick in and explode into an ear piercing colossus of distortion that would give the likes of My Bloody Valentine a run for their money for sheer decibel-busting volume. Their method of switching back and forth between powerful sonic noises and peaceful textures is a classic formula of instrumental rock that Mogwai have successfully portrayed time and time again.

Finally, “Glasgow Megasnake” provides as a very energetic set closer as it is packed full of blasting riffs, ferocious bass-lines and pounding drums, resulting in a thrilling finish.

“Special Moves” is a fantastic overall performance and showcases some of Mogwai’s greatest pieces of work over the past fifteen years. Every subtle detail can be heard thanks to some excellent mastering, as well as the band’s fantastic ability to create vast layers of sound whilst still maintaining clarity for each instrument. This could be the closet thing to a greatest hits album we will get from Mogwai, as “Special Moves” is a perfect reminder of why they are one of the most celebrated post-r… sorry, instrumental rock bands today.

[rating:4.5]


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