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Mogwai - Les Revenants (OST) CD (album) cover

LES REVENANTS (OST)

Mogwai

Post Rock/Math rock


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richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Its important to note that I know nothing about this band other than this album. I came across this when watching the brilliant French TV series for which this is the soundtrack. For those who don't know it's about people coming back from the dead although not in some Zombie apocalypse scenario but rather in a more standard drama. Its weird and played dead (excuse the pun) straight in typical French dead pan(oh sorry again) style. Slow atmospheric creepy and totally absorbing. And that basically describes the music. Its slow melodic and full of subtle melodies. No long tracks and no massive flourishes instrumentally. Each track is beautifully structured although I couldn't name a stand out piece. I suppose this could almost be seen as the commercial end of post rock but that would be to do it a disservice. How does it stand up against their other releases? Absolutely no idea as said before. That will be for someone else to judge.
Report this review (#1054872)
Posted Sunday, October 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mogwai hail from Glasgow, Scotland, a wonderful place indeed! Maintaining the grey, atmospheric mood of their city, they have been delivering excellent post rock music since 1996, being one of the most important bands of their genre. In fact, if one would ask me to describe post rock and recommend three very definitive bands, I'd surely reply ''Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Sigur Ros''. They have released only good albums in their career so, we are dealing with a band of really high quality standards.

Some important differences with other post rock bands: Mogwai's sound is very warm, organic and well balanced throughout their, mainly instrumental, compositions. When their music explodes, they don't produce speaker-burning frequencies (you know, full high's and full low's) but retain a more, in a way, old school rock feeling, which works perfectly. They also don't need lengthy compositions all the time, they are capable of fulfilling wonderful songwriting ideas in 4 minutes songs with perfect precision, arrangement, and dynamics, in every mood required.

This album is the OST of the amazing TV French series ''Les Revenants'', which aired in 2012. This is an extremely atmospheric story of dead people who mysteriously return to their hometown without any memory of their passing. It's not a zombie story, it mostly deals with sentiments, human relations and mystery. Accordingly, Mogwai composed music that is equivalently sentimental, haunting, touching and enigmatic. Many viewers of the show felt astonished by the music, it gets the job done in an incredible manner, harmonically supporting the plot and every scene.

Due to its cinematic nature, the loud, aggressive side of Mogwai is almost entirely absent but this doesn't mind at all, since there are 14 beautiful themes here to enjoy. Most of the basic melodies are being shared between Barry Burns' piano and Braithwaite/Cummings guitar soundscapes. The presence of strings adds dramatic tones of intensity while Aitchison/Bulloch is a calm and wise rhythm section that provides a solid support at all times. The arrangements are truly great and well used and the compositions offer a wide range of emotional states. Some tracks stay true to post rock aesthetics (Special N, Relative Hysteria) with major chords and a bittersweet approach, while others (Jaguar, Whisky Time, Fridge Magic) step on the usual minimal and ambient cinematic path. ''What are they doing in heaven today?'' is the only song with vocals and along with ''Kill Jester'', they unveil folk references. These tunes may resemble a bit some calm moments of Crippled Black Phoenix or, even better, the acoustic side of Pink Floyd. ''Portugal'' and ''Eagle Tax''are sad and electrifying tunes that should certainly be considered amongst the album's best tracks. The only truly dark theme is ''The Huts'' but make no mistake, there's a fantastic harmony involved.

I have to mention three songs separately, due to their special musical interest. ''This messiah needs watching'', ''Modern'' and ''Wizard motor'' introduce us to a more electronic aspect of Mogwai's music. There is a common pattern here, simple yet great: classic post melodies interweave with drum loops, synth sounds and distorted bass. The result is a Mogwai-style electronic post, which is very successful. (Ok, maybe some relation with 65daysofstatic can be found.) This year's ''Rave Tapes'' is a step further into that direction so, maybe we are witnessing the formation of Mogwai's future. ''Hungry Face'' is the opening credits theme, first song of the album and definitely its best. A simple piano melody, a haunting cello, flowing drums, a gem of a song that is destined to hook into your brain, guaranteed. Last but not least, there is a tiny detail. I'm a bassist so please believe me when I tell you that Dominic Aitchinson's bass tone is one of the most ''monstrous'' in rock. Even when he hits open strings in melodic parts, there is always a sense of threat coming from his bass, keeping you always alert about an explosion that's soon to come! Brilliant.

This may not be their most representative record but ''Les Revenants'' is a very beautiful piece of art. One of the best soundtracks I've heard recently and with rock interest as well. What more could you ask? If you like Mogwai go ahead, you know what to expect. If you don't know them, this might as well be a good opportunity to meet another great band of contemporary music. 84/100 for me. 4 solid stars.

Report this review (#1181728)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars The TV show wasn't a masterpiece, the plot had a huge number of logical faults and the authors didn't have any idea of how to explain it, so a lot of things remained unexplained and incomplete. But the atmosphere of that French village on the alps, with people coming back from death and resurrecting several times and a number of related misteries was able to keep you sit in front of the TV.

Well, one of the reasons is that the music composed by MOGWAI was perfectly fitting in that atmosphere. It was so integrated that I can't imagine watching it with a different soundtrack. In example, the Americans, maybe Netflix tried a remake, but unfortunately the actors were "standardized" to the American style and the soundtrack...well I don't think I resisted more than 15 minutes to the whole.

So back to Mogwai: this was not a horror movie even though there's a thrilling atmosphere, and the musical comment is not that of a horror movie, but it's like a light nightmare. The music can show all the dark side of the story, which include serial killers, religious fanatics, alchoolist parents, almost all the possible dark aspects of the human nature, but there's some melancholy, sense of wonder, so a number of sensation that the music is able to create, not just comment.

I don't know if I would have appreciated the movie without that music and vice versa. Keeping the two things separated isn't easy. I can say that I enjoy listening to the album "alone". All the tracks, except one, are instrumental, slow, atmospheric and dark but not too much. The non-instrumental track is a sort of slow country melodic song in the vein of Roger WATERS solo stuff, but without him screaming as usual.

I actually heard the Mogwai debut only, and I didn't like much. This TV stuff had the merit of making me appreciate their music and their other works. (I still don't like the debut, anyway).

So I don't know if I'm suggesting/reviewing the album or the movie. let's say both. The story is inconsistent, but the atmosphere and the OST are great.

Report this review (#2246338)
Posted Monday, August 26, 2019 | Review Permalink

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