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Mogwai - Mr. Beast CD (album) cover



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4 stars At first I had dismissed MOGWAI as a prog band for people who didn't listen to prog. The music seemed to progress, but with no real purpose. MR BEAST has changed my mind.

It's the same sound and format as before, but refined, and more sophisticated. I always felt that MOGWAI were a mood band, writing music with the goal of creating a certain mood. Here they've done more than this, and each song creates an environment, a world (be it a world of depression) where the music exists alone. The closer, WE'RE NO HERE sums this up, and its onslaught of guitars is heavy in the classical sense - it weights you down. With the short-lived feedback in the final few seconds, this weight is removed, and the music is gone. The most progressive elements for me of MR BEAST were the few minutes of silence I left before listening to any other music, where the previous 43 minutes faded away, like the dull glow of a light as it powers down.

Serious guitar music indeed. For me it may be a little too serious, and there are points where it crosses the boundary between emotive music and a downright depressing feel, but as an album it works far better than any of they're previous work. It's not a masterpiece of progressive rock, but it'll pose a serious problem to MOGWAI if they want one - how to follow it without repeating themselves.

Report this review (#71769)
Posted Sunday, March 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mogwai's latest release is a success. I was very nervous to play this album. Well, not really. I was more suspicious. I found it to be a well put-together album, and found it somewhat different than previous Mogwai music. This album, as a whole, seemed a little bit closer to alt-rock being that its definitely guitar heavy, with plenty of distortion (but a different kind than I'm used to with Mogwai.) While none of the tracks really stood out in a huge way, as an album I thought it had a strong grip.

Happy Songs is still their best album, but this is a strong follow-up, and if you have liked earlier Mogwai, you'll like this one. It will more than likely surprise you. Although it maintains that somewhat depressing Mogwai feel, it does it in an entirely new way. Post-rock fans will be content with this album. Less die-hard fans will either like the semi-alt change, or despise it. Haowever, this is a must for hardcore fans. 4 stars.

Report this review (#71818)
Posted Monday, March 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars To this point I had never purchased a Mogwai album on its initial release. I have heard their albums all right, but the band never pushed any of the right buttons, and quite frankly, they bored of me, or I was just too lazy. One of them anyway. Mr. Beast was interesting to me to the point where some hardened fans were claiming the band were running on empty, slamming this album for its lack of progress. Some would claim that the band had run out of ideas. I always thought mogwai just played, playing on ideas, and on Mr. Beast they play. Some of the themes of previous albums, certain narrated stuff, just got in the way of the music for me. Perhaps I bought Mr. Beast because the hard core legion of Mogwai fans seemed unhappy with it. The album was certainly pleasing to my ears. The pieces on Mr. Beast are condensed and concise. There is still that rapid flow of emotions being relayed, as the band emphasise on the two opening cuts, "Auto Rock", a real slow burner, and the emphatic "Glasgow Mega Snake", a tune bursting at the seams with mega guitar playing and a title that is a hot contender for best song title in the world ever! If such a dumb contest ever exists at all! Mr Beast is an album that just may attract a new generation of fans to this Scottish outfit. The first few Mogwai albums were held close by a tight knit community, and I for one could never grasp onto, but with Mr. Beast I feel comfortable that I have stepped in at the right time. And after going through the bands back catalog it is the first album by Mogwai I have truly warmed to, I may even go out and purchase some of their older stuff.
Report this review (#81464)
Posted Monday, June 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What's all the fuss about?

There has been alot of mixed feelings with the new Mogwai album, Mr. Beast. Alot of fans where shocked by the direction they've taken on this album. Many of them say they've sold out or that they'll never be as good as in the 90's while others try to defend them. So what's happening really?

Well, they did changed their sound to a more "normal" sounding band. All the sonic landscapes they had on Happy Songs For Happy People aren't here. They've cut down the use of drones also so you won't hear songs like Boring Machine Disturbs Sleep on this album. Many of you who haven't gotten into the music of Mogwai because of this will be pleased to know that they've stopped the excesive noddling to some extent. There are still songs in wich they dabble and drift away, but know they're made with soft drumming, mellow piano and guitar work instead of electronics. Because of this they now have a certain "Alternative" sound to them.

The start of this album is really pleasing starting with the slow builder Auto Rock with it's repetetive piano work and its increasingly loud drumming that almost reaches to a climax, but suddenly stops before you get a taste of anything. The good news is that after that comes the one of the two hard rocking songs of the album, Glasgow Mega Snake, wich is basically a barrage of distortion guitar and sheer power that leaves you headbanging from start to finish. I will also note that it's one of the heaviest momments Mogwais has ever made. Another highly of the albums is Travel Is Dangerous (my favourite of the album) that has an ear shattering explosion of emotions in a very short amount of time. It's perfect for introducing friends into post-rock. Friend of the Night is also a song that stands from the crowd with some really great and very emotional melodies played by the piano specially on the second half of the song. The other songs are average, but not in a bad way. All of them help keep the atmosphere of the album going.

The more I listen to this album the more I draw comparisons with their previous one, Happy songs for happy people. It has mostly short songs, the running time of the album is about the same, The flow of the album is quite similar too. It's like the other side of the coin, but this one is more normal sounding while Happy Songs... sounds more rich and full of sound and with a certain dreamy sound thanks to the drones and electric noddling.

In conclusion, you can start listening to Mogwai with this album if you're new to the genre since it's very accesible and has a certain "alternative" sound to it, but it doesn't represent their sound as good as other albums. It isn't their best album either so don't bother yourself trying to get this album quickly. There are better albums to be played. :)

Report this review (#88874)
Posted Sunday, September 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Writer wishes to admit that he has never cared much for Mogwai. The Writer, although he has listened to a good amount of their output, feels that at their worst Mogwai are technically interesting but dry and cold in execution--kind of like a Stanly Kubrick film--and also feels that their output is oddly inconsitant. The bands best albums seem to have to much of what The Writer can sadly only refer to as (that destestable word) "filler". Now, The Writer wishes to admit that he actually really enjoys Mr. Beast and feels that it is probably the most consistant, interesting, and listenable of their albums--and even likes the ambient track with the guy mumbling in Japanese.

The album also has some tightly written instrumental rock songs (The Writer feels that the term Post-Rock does not aptly apply to this album as it perhaps did to their previous works) such as "Glasgow Mega-Snake" (The Writer favorite song title ever), "Travel is Dangerous", "Friend of the Night", and "We're No Here" that are all very involving and sometimes even close to conventional. The Writer feels that parts of this album are actually damn catchy, and wonders if "catchy" is such a bad thing for Mogwai to be...

Report this review (#109278)
Posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was the first mogwai album i ever owned and good album this one is. Mr. Beast is probably their best work yet next to Happy songs. The album does not really have any long compositions or epics. This a really laid back album except for track 2 Glasgow mega snake which is the most heavy Mogwai track ever created, one of the highlights of the album. Travel is Dangerous is a track that features vocals by mogwai usually they are mainly instrumental, but the vocals go great with this song. Friend of the night features some great pianp by mogwai, this is a nice peaceful track. One of my faves is Folk death 95, its starts off slow and builds into a solid track with great distorted guitar. Were no here is the last track and end as a heavy mogwai track, a solid close to this album. Each track on Mr. Beast is very different than the next , you don't know if you get their metal side or their more mellow side. A good Post Rock album by Mogwai.4 stars
Report this review (#148235)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Talk about miracles.

I've finally found a post-rock album I can hear without needing a pillow (or a pill, for that matter). And it's by a band which I found rather boring the first time I tried it out. But I've read the reviews which said that the album I had heard from them was the worst one, I re-listened to it and found that maybe, maybe there was some room for hope, and ventured into their post-waters again. And surprise! I really liked what I found.

What has won me over about MOGWAI's "Mr. Beast" is that it condenses all the good things about post-rock in short, 4-5 minute songs and gets rid of the endless wavering of bands like GY!BE or SIGUR ROS. I've said it before: what other post-rock did to me was it bored me to death. I said that there were some interesting things going on (mostly the clean-guitar work and textures, the atmosphere) but complained about the useless (in my opinion) tendency to repeat, and repeat, and repeat weak ideas over and over again. This is not the case with this album. MOGWAI has produced a 10-song collection that is easy to digest as every song is short enough not to get boring and also interesting enough to hold my attention for the total length of it. While "Come On Die Young" (the other album I've listened to by this band) had a lot of problems, it also had this short-song structure, and that was what made me come back to the band in the first place.

I can say I probably would've liked other post-rock albums much more if they contained shorter songs as does this one, but there are other problems that those bands had, that "Mr. Beast" resolves, in my view.

One of those problems is the lack of change in both mood and tempo in all the post-rock I had heard before. Throughout entire records, I never saw a single change in the speed of the music and in the mood of the music. 50+ minutes of the same slow, dragging, depressing sounds were too much for me. MOGWAI is different now, even if it wasn't then. "Come On Die Young" was marred by the same same-mood, same-tempo flaw of other bands, but Mr. Beast brings on a refreshing change: here we have a collection of diverse songs, some faster, some slower, some that feel depressing (this is post-rock after all) but some that actually sound optimistic. I can't believe I'm saying that but it's true. A few of the tracks are actually light.

That wouldn't mean a thing if the music was weak. But it's not. The guitar-texturing is here again but shining so much brighter now that they've been given good material to work over. Some electronica here, some hard-rock there, some atmospheric passages, some ambience passages, the music entertains all the way through and mood and gives this listener a new hope for this until-now impossible-to-understand genre.

The musicians are very capable and I have to give them a recognition few would even believe I did: as much as I love progressive metal and also symphonic prog, I'm usually not much into instrumental albums in any of those genres. I have the ocassional ROINE STOLT album or the splendid LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT duo, but other bands like PLANET X or solo outputs by artists like SHERINIAN have left me dry. I just can't enjoy metal or symphonic prog as much without vocals as I can with vocals. The complete OPPOSITE with post-rock. I enjoy instrumental pieces (as long as they're short, pun intended) much more than actual songs. More so when the examples I have of post-rock singers are so abismal and cataclysmic as SIGUR ROS' voice.

While this may not be a post-rock purist favorite album, it's clearly the best I've heard so far. For a few moments at the beginning of the opus, I was in awe at the possibility of giving a post-rock album 5 stars. Some tracks in Mr. Beast are weaker than others, there's a couple that actually brought back memories of past post-rock-related tragedies, but pieces like the three that open the album (Auto Rock, Glasgow Mega-Snake and Acid Food, specially the excellent first one) make me believe that maybe I've found one band in this genre that I can truly call a GOOD BAND.

Highly recommended, specially for those people who don't like post-rock for the reasons I mentioned above, but think there's some light in the end of the repetition/depression tunnel.

Report this review (#162259)
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Out of the four MOGWAI recordings I presently own this is by far my least favourite. This one just isn't as dynamic or refreshing as the others in my opinion. And it sure doesn't have those crushing moments like on "My Father, My King".

"Auto Rock" is pretty good with the piano that seems to come out of the silence and slowly build, but it doesn't build much. "Glasgow Mega-Snake "is my favourite. The guitar intro is fantastic as the drums come pounding in. Great sound a minute in. Nice and heavy a minute later. "Acid Food" features this pulsating beat as reserved vocals arrive in this mid-paced, catchy tune. "Travel Is Dangerous" is another good one that opens with drums and vocals. Guitar comes in. This has an alternative flavour to it which I like .Post- rock guitars after 2 minutes. Great track.

"Team Handed" is kind of a sad and slow instrumental. "Friend Of The Night" features piano and drums as gentle guitar joins in. It gets more passionate before it settles back down 5 minutes in. "Emergency Trap" is pastoral to start as it slowly builds, it still stays pretty mellow though. "Folk Death 95" is one i like because of the guitar. It builds until it kicks into a higher gear before 2 1/2 minutes. But then again they don't let loose at all. " Chose Horses" is mellow with spoken words. "Were No Here" is one of the better tracks because we finally have some heaviness. It's like the soundscape is shaking 3 minutes in.

Good record but nothing more.

Report this review (#171973)
Posted Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars These guys put me to sleep . . . in a good way.

Unlike many similar-sounding bands, Mogwai manages to entrance the listiner with their mellow, dream- like sequences of sound painting. The bulk of the material is instrumental, but that's fine; ;yrics really aren't required for this type of music.

''Mr. Beast'' is the first record by this band I have listened to, and I must say I am very impressed by the unconventional beauty and warmth present here. Even during the darker and heavier tunes, the band never ceases to soothe and comfort my ears.

Alot of this record has the potential of sounding repetitive or stagnant, so it's certainly not for everyone, but if you are willing to go out on a limb and clear your mind of any preconceptions (which in my opinion should be practed every time a new band is listened to), you will most likely fall in love like I did with Mr. Beast and Mogwai as a whole.

A few points I should make, however: if you want epic, soaring soundscapes with prolific themes, constantly-changing time signatures and memorable melodies, this will almost certainly dissapoint you. Mogwai isn't really a band-oriented or even a prog-oriented group at the end of the day. Their focus seems to be primarily on the guitar and what interesting soundscapes that particular instrument can produce. This means that the other musicians, technically skilled or not, almost always take a backseat position in the mixes and playing styles, giving more room for the lead guitarist to do his thing.

If you want technicallity, go listen to some early Genesis, because this band, wow top-notch musicians, don't really seem to have any desire to flaunt their skills. This is very ambient and atmospheric music, and if you are expecting anything more, you aren't going to 'get' Mogwai right away, if ever. If you just accept that they are good players who produce decent, interesting music, then I'm sure you will love them.

This is the type of music that you would want to hear as you drive through a brightly-lit cityscape at twilight, or when you are relaxing in the comfort of your home. It's not really About layers and virtuostic elements, but that doesn't make them unenjoyable.

However, I myself find my heart really lies with the more band-oriented and lyrical fronts, so I can't honestly give this type of stuff any more than three stars unless it completely knocks me out. So far Mogwai's material has only pleased me in the most basic way, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, because I'm not expecting anything more from them. As I said, they are who they are, and not everyone is going to like it, but if you keep an open mind, you're bound to find something you like in this band.

3.5 Stars. A good record, but nothing monumental or dazzling. Just good. And that's good enough for me. Give Mogwai a listen if you're in the mood for some nice guitar sounds.

Happy Listening.

Report this review (#194445)
Posted Friday, December 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mr. Beast is the fifth full-length studio album by Scottish experimental/ post rock act Mogwai. I had a hard time with the first two album by the band but fell in love with their music after listening to their third effort Rock Action (2001). Their fourth album Happy Songs For Happy People (2003) cemented my interest in the band and Mr. Beast is definitely another good album from the band.

While the two predecessors had a similar style its obvious that Mogwai wanted to try something different on Mr. Beast. The music is still almost instrumental all the way through even though there are more vocals here than on any other Mogwai album before Mr. Beast. The difference between Mr. Beast and its two predecessors is that Mogwai has added a heavy element to some of the songs on the album. Im almost reminded of post metal in songs like Were No Here, I Chose Horses ( the ending) and especially Glasgow Mega-Snake. Mr. Beast is of course much more than a couple of heavy riffs though and the melodic building structures that was by then a trademark in Mogwais sound is very much present here. There are some beautiful piano motifs on the album as well ( just listen to Friend of the Night) that really adds to the generally melancholic mood. Acid Food, Travel is Dangerous and I Chose Horses which are the songs with vocals are all strong, but the vocals are rather restrained and dont stand out as something unique. They are great for the atmosphere on the album though and great for the diversity too.

The musicianship is excellent. All musicians understand the importance of dynamics in music and together they create some great interplay.

The production is excellent. A bit more raw than what weve become used to with the last couple of albums and I think its a great development. Who should have thought that Mogwai would suddenly bite? ( well they are not called Gizmo, so I probably should have expected to get bitten at some point).

Mr. Beast is now the third album in a row from Mogwai that I rate 4 stars. Its not every day that I am impressed by new music I listen to but Mogwai has really opened up a new world to me. Its taken some time to appreciate their music. At first I was intrigued, but not really impressed, but the music has grown on me and Im really glad that I gave them a chance. I cant wait to see what they have to offer on their next album.

Report this review (#205846)
Posted Monday, March 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my first Mogwai, I had initially written a really poor review, only giving it 3 stars without really saying nothing about it, so here I'm changing it.

First of all, this is simple, beautiful, touchy and organic, and I think that's what post-rock is all about, although I'm not usually fond of post-rock bands with really short songs (I think that building a climax or the repetition of a certain movement needs its time), Mogwai do it really fine, no song is longer than 6 minutes, but everything feels in its right place.

The opening "Auto Rock" is really the perfect example of what I said earlier, it builds simply around a piano melody and grows perfectly to the end. The second song is one of the most aggressive songs I have ever heard by a post-rock band (well, Russian Circles' "Death Rides A Horse" beats this), "Glasgow Mega-Snake" is a powerful moment of insane intensity and strength, it's really fantastic a really good change of pace. "Acid Food" is a lovely soft song, with beautiful guitar and strangely fitting processed drums and the voice is really soothing and harmonious, one more great piece.

I'm not going to develop much more, I just thought it was important to talk about the first three songs, other than that, "Friend Of The Night" is my favorite on the album, "Travel Is Dangerous" and "I Chose Horses" also deserve to be mentioned.

This album is clearly worth four stars, I love listening to it, I never get sick of it and feels right. Well done really.

Report this review (#217348)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One more in line of quality Mogwai album. Similar and different.

It was quite controversial at the time of release, whenever the band corrected their usual sound on it: from ambient soundscapes they turned to better-structure melodic indie-influenced songs. Few years ago it sounded as a crime for their fans, now this album stays as one of their great work.

Time is the best evaluator, even such short as 4 years. And if post-rock wave almost disappeared because of myriads of sound-alike clones today, some bright releases of that genre sound even brighter today.

I don't want to say, that any post-rock influenced by indie sound is a masterpiece, no way! But such a great band as Mogwai is melted there on this album their excellent musicianship and great sound signature with some melodic and more accessible music. The result is successful in my opinion.

Not very representative for Mogwai music in general, this album is great entrance for newcomers not only for Mogwai, but post-rock in whole.

My rating is 3,5 rounded to 4.

Report this review (#296358)
Posted Friday, August 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mogwai's Mr Beast finds the band concentrating on short and to the point post-rock with a greater focus on piano and exquisite production values which seem to take a leaf from Sigur Ros' book. This makes it perhaps one of Mogwai's more accessible albums, particularly compared to their murky earlier work, but this accessibility does not mean there's nothing for post-rock fans to enjoy here. Indeed, the development of Mogwai's sound away from their roots will be something to a relief to many listeners, since whilst their early albums were great, by 2005 there were so many soundalike bands out there that it fell on innovators like Mogwai to set an example by pushing forward into new territory as opposed to lurking in their comfort zone.
Report this review (#692390)
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | Review Permalink

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