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Mogwai - Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003 CD (album) cover



Post Rock/Math rock

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4 stars To put it simply; marvelous. This is how live albums should be done, a good varied collection from the albums. Each song played extremely well, and sounding just as good if not better. If you are going to buy one Mogwai album this is it. This album shows every side of Mogwai, from the almost riff rock of "Hunted By A Freak" the ambient "Superheroes of BMX" and the violent feedback assault of "Like Herod". This album showcases why Mogwai have become legends of the post rock scene.

The album itself is guitar oriented, and works with usually pleasing and sometimes angry guitar patterns. There are songs which rely very strongly on another instrument to provide the backbone of the music("New Paths To Helicon, pt 2" For example) where the guitars buzz about it providing the layers to the substance musically. This is more traditional post rock in that it doesn't much deal with complex compositions(like post rocks current pretty boy Godspeed You Black! Emperor) but concentrates mostly on the pure emotion which post rock harks to. Each song doesn't really have a purpose conceptually (Mogwai even admitted that the names of the songs are all meaningless) but each one just concentrates on giving of a certain mood or expressing an emotion. Its very driven music.

The album strongest track is "Like Herod" which goes through multiple climaxes each time a buildup of considerable musical rage culminating in a wall of feedback noises, each time as surprising and moving as the last. Another good point is "Secret Pint" which doubles up very pretty vocals with a melancholy violin playing softly, these two are nicely placed one after the other showing us Mogwai's musical scope. The only problem with the album is that I feel Neither the tracks "R U Still in 2 It" or "Kappa" add anything to the album by not exploring any territory that isn't gone over better on different tracks on the album, but seeing as how it was a live show it was really intended for live format and not album.

An extremely good listening experience, essential to any post rock collection and an excellent addition to any prog collection. Good for fans, but this album is really for people who have never explored Mogwai and are in need of something new and rewarding.

Report this review (#41319)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003" is a compilation album release by Scottish post-rock act Mogwai. The album was released through PIAS Recordings/Rock Action Records in February 2005 and contains sessions recorded for the BBC Radio between 1996 and 2003 as the title also suggests. "Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003" features 10 tracks and a total playing time of 67:00 minutes. Many of the tracks were recorded for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peelīs program the Peel Sessions, and the compilation is dedicated to his memory (Peel died of a heart attack in October 2004). Peel is heard introducing the band before album opener "Hunted by a Freak" starts.

The song selection on any compilation album can always be discussed but the quality of the recordings is arguably of a good quality. "Hunted by a Freak" opens the album in great style but a song like the 18:32 minutes long "Like Herod" is also an album highlight. To my ears this live version easily beats the original studio version. "Superheroes of BMX" also stands out as being a different sounding track and a welcome variation on the album. The music is guitar oriented and mostly instrumental post-rock. There are vocals on "Cody" though but not on "R U Still in 2 It?" which featured vocals on the original studio version from "Young Team (1997)".

The musicianship is strong on all positions. Mogwai have always understood that little is better and they get a lot out of the few notes they play. Itīs all about atmosphere, slow build-ups, and clever songwriting. "Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003" is not the best place to start if youīre new to the band as it predominantly features live versions of material from the early years of the band but it is overall a pretty good compilation of songs by "Mogwai". A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#217685)
Posted Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permalink

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