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MOGWAI

Post Rock/Math rock • United Kingdom


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Mogwai biography
Formed in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1996, and named for that famous Gremlin, MOGWAI is Stuart Braithwaite (guitar, vocals-when there actually are vocals), Dominic Aitchison (guitar, bass) and Martin Bulloch (drums). MOGWAI are one of the most influentail post-rock bands of all time. They got together with the goal of creating "serious guitar music." What they've done is create seven (basically - five LPs and two compilations of singles) superb albums of gorgeous yet bombastic music. 98% instrumental, there are two sides to MOGWAI, a Dr. Jekyll side and a Mr. Hyde side. They can be melodic and beautiful and then anarchic and destructive, sometimes within the same track. Bands like BILLY MAHONIE and SLINT give a touchtone, but MOGWAI is truly unique.

Tracking down the literally dozens of splin 7" vinyl singles, compilation album contributions, etc, is exhausting and pointeless, because the band's done it for you. Two full-length compilations are out, "Ten Rapid" and "EP+6." Be careful when buying the latter. There's an "EP," and "EP+2," an "EP+4," a "No Education = No Future," and a "4 Satin." All these repeat themselves but are captured in full on "EP+6" - that's the one to get. At any rate, all the rare tracks that fell through the holes are available as free downloads from MOGWAI's official site.

The full albums are "Young Team," "Come On Die Young," "Rock Action," and "Happy Songs for Happy People," plus the single track 20 minute EP "My Father My King." There is a very stripped and organic feel to "Young Team," "Come On Die Young," and "My Father My King." There are more electronics covering "Rock Action" and "Happy Songs for Happy People." While all MOGWAI is highly recommended, "Rock Action" is the place to start. Also, "EP+6" minus one 13 minute noise track, is stupendous.

: : : BrainRock Ben, Birmingham, AL, USA : : :

ALBUMS:
---- Mogwai [EP+6]
2003 Happy Songs for Happy People *[Japan Bonus Track]
2001 Rock Action *[Japan Bonus Tracks]
1999 Come on Die Young
1997 Young Team
* 1999 Young Team [Bonus Tracks]

Box Set/Compilation:
2005 Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2004
1998 Mogwai Fear Satan Remixes
1998 Kicking a Dead Pig: Mogwai Songs Remixed [Eye-Q]
* 1998 Kicking A Dead Pig: Mogwai Songs Remixed + Fear Satan Remixes [Jetset]
1997 Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996-1997)
1997 Club Beatroot, Pt. 4 [Split]

Mogwai official website

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MOGWAI discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MOGWAI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 93 ratings
Young Team
1997
3.00 | 1 ratings
Kicking A Dead Pig
1998
2.85 | 57 ratings
Come on Die Young
1999
3.51 | 64 ratings
Rock Action
2001
3.91 | 162 ratings
Happy Songs For Happy People
2003
3.73 | 93 ratings
Mr. Beast
2006
3.33 | 32 ratings
Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait
2006
3.78 | 79 ratings
The Hawk Is Howling
2008
3.80 | 123 ratings
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
2011
3.76 | 22 ratings
Les Revenants
2013
3.24 | 40 ratings
Rave Tapes
2014
3.45 | 11 ratings
Atomic
2016

MOGWAI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 18 ratings
Special Moves
2010
3.50 | 4 ratings
iTunes Festival: London 2011
2011

MOGWAI Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MOGWAI Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 16 ratings
Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996-1997)
1997
3.62 | 12 ratings
Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003
2005
2.80 | 5 ratings
A Wrenched Virile Lore
2012
4.00 | 3 ratings
Central Belters
2015

MOGWAI Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 4 ratings
4 Satin
1997
2.00 | 3 ratings
No Education = No Future (Fuck the Curfew)
1998
3.90 | 11 ratings
EP
1999
3.43 | 13 ratings
My Father, My King
2001
3.10 | 2 ratings
Friend Of The Night
2006
3.30 | 11 ratings
Earth Division
2011

MOGWAI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Rave Tapes by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.24 | 40 ratings

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Rave Tapes
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Lewian

3 stars There are some albums which are very good for me, but which I don't think I'd rate that highly as a critic. This is one of them. I personally love it and for me alone it would be 4 stars if not more. However, the things I like about this album are hard to explain and very irrational. Some tunes, sounds and rhythms get close to the heart and some don't, for mysterious reasons, in a highly individual manner. It's always an impressive experience how far one person's taste in these respects can be different from another one's, while about a number of more "rational", explainable criteria they could agree.

This album speaks to me in this very individual way, it gives me some kind of "coming home" feeling with its somewhat melancholic but still forward driving, peaceful but also powerful songs. The tunes just work for me. Then, there isn't much innovation on this one and hardly anything that I could explain that'd make it stand out from other Mogwai albums. It's mostly instrumental, not very eventful, mostly rather keyboard- than guitar-driven, with loud drums and the mix of heaviness and relaxedness that is characteristic for Mogwai. It could easily be discarded as "nothing special" except it is something special for me for I don't know what reason. The magic of music ("No medicine for regret" is the number one example for me but most of the others also work well). The most postive thing I can say is that Mogwai just do what they're good at, in a mature and confident fashion. Mogwai do Mogwai, and they do it well.

 Young Team by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.57 | 93 ratings

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Young Team
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars After the wild and eclectic debut EP "4 Satin," the Scottish post-rock band MOGWAI (means "evil spirit" in Cantonese) wasted no time releasing their first official full length album MOGWAI YOUNG TEAM just a few months later, however in that short time the band learned how to find a more cohesive sound that has become more focused than the wild palette of motifs heard on the EP. What we get here is a nice mellow kind of post-rock that mostly consists of guitar, bass and drums and just like a little music box has repetitive loops of sound that in some cases ratchet up the tension past the ten minute mark ("Little Herod," "Mogwai Fear Satan"). Unlike the more elaborate themes of post-rock contemporaries like Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Tortoise or Sigur Rós that tend to add sonic layers upon each other, MOGWAI opts for the simpler route only taking that road a few times on the longer tracks. If i had to compare them with another band's approach i would have to say they remind me a bit more of Australia's Dirty Three or even a Godspeed! without the bells and whistles.

While the guitar, bass and drum trio of instruments are the backbone of MOGWAI's sound, there are also inclusions of other instruments scattered throughout the album. There is a glockenspiel on "Tracy," a piano on "Radar Maker," "With Portfolio," "A Cheery Wave Of Stranded Youngster" and we also get some flute on "Mogwai Fear Satan." Despite the different sounds coming in and out the emphasis is focused on the looping of themes which usually build momentum on the softer side of the sound spectrum and then can suddenly explode into a raucous cacophonous frenzy. While most of the tracks stick to this formula and are similar in timbre, song structure and mood, there are some strange beasts on board here as well. "With Portfolio" is a bizarre little track that utilizes some seriously heavy use of distortion and effects. Although it begins with an innocent piano riff it soon is joined in by some serious Krautrock-esque type of electronic embellishments that eventually gain control and take the listener on the most tripped out track on the album.

However for the most part is definatley a post-rock band and MOGWAI does stick to the parameters of how song structures are laid out and all but the band still manages to separate their enough from the post-rock scene in general. It is a mostly instrumental album but there are a few tracks that have spoken words and "R U Still in 2 It" has guest vocals from Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap. MOGWAI YOUNG TEAM is a great debut album by the band that manages to keep the tracks similar enough for the most part to have a cohesive feel to the whole thing but yet has enough diverse elements that prevent it from becoming boring in any way. Nice sounds, nice songs and nice feel to the whole thing. This is where i began my MOGWAI journey and have been loving their albums that follow.

 Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 123 ratings

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Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This has to be Mogwai's best output to date in my opinion. Even though I have enjoyed most every thing the band has done, this album is so full of drama, emotion and dynamic beauty that it out does everything else that the band has done so far, and that should be expected from a truly progressive band. While it is true that the album leans somewhat to the alternative side more than other albums, it still keeps it's post rock edge and merges the two sounds quite well. The album is more up beat than a lot of their albums with more fast tempo tracks than normal with a steady beat, hence the feeling of being more straightforward than in the past, but the heavy guitar is still there giving the fans the post rock sound they love and cementing the bands position as post rock leaders. There is very little reliance on the use of post rock formulas of soft-crescendo-climax and more of a rock-oriented feel. There is still the use of electronics as there has been in the most recent albums, but there is also more of a return to post-rock guitar sensibilities without resorting to the predictable formula. It's quite an amazing mix.

Most of the songs are surprisingly upbeat with a consistent tempo. There are a few beautiful slower tracks like "Letters to the Metro" and "Too Raging to Cheers" that are extraordinarily emotional and lovely tracks. It's also quite nice to hear the band not rely on so many mid-tempo tracks here too, but when they do, the sound is not as worn out by the time you get to the end of the album, in fact, you come to the end of the album and want more. By the way, if you get the Japanese version, you get 2 more excellent bonus tracks. There is also a special edition of the album that has a 2nd disc that contains the 23 minute epic track "Music for a Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain)" which is well worth seeking.

Even with the alternative influence here, this is a very strong album. Some may not consider it progressive because of the more consistent tempos of the songs, but in my opinion, it still stays true to the progressive genre in that it very successfully merges the genres and stays true to the post-rock sound ending up with a better overall album in the end. Most people seem to consider "Happy Music for Happy People" their favorite album and the band's highlight, but, even though I love that album, this one is so much more dramatic and varied, with less reliance on the old predictable formulas. It also contains one of my favorite tracks, the very expressive and progressive piece "Too Raging to Cheers" which I cannot say enough about. What an amazing track...I only wish it was longer. I can't help but give this album less than 5 stars, because in my mind, it is a masterpiece and one that should be considered a high standard for any post-rock band to reach. It's up there with the great post-rock albums including "F#A (infinity)" by GY!BE and "Ágćtis Byrjun" by Sigur Ros. 5 brilliant stars.

 Happy Songs For Happy People by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.91 | 162 ratings

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Happy Songs For Happy People
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For the most part, this is a more mellow sounding album, yet with a lot of emotion. There are still a few louder tracks like "Stop Coming to My House" and "Ratts of the Capital" that feature the basic Post-Rock formula of starting out soft and crescendo-ing to a climax and then repeating and these have the louder wall of sound build ups, but the other tracks here are more mellow and keyboard oriented with less guitar lead than before. This makes for an enjoyable album with more variety and dynamic variation than previously and thus makes for a better album. The album can be easily enjoyed as background music or as music to concentrate on and still have a great impact on the listener. There are a few shorter songs, including "Boring Machine Disturbs Sleep" that ventures into experimental territory, but as for the rest of the music, it is quite straightforward and mid-tempo, yet still remains very emotional and meaningful. There are also vocals, but they are heavily processed and mixed deep into the overall sound so that they become almost part of the background to the song, and the lyrics are very undecipherable. But this style of vocalization does not take away from the song and fits the mood well. The music is quite accessible and surprisingly not as repetitive as you would expect. There are a lot of layers of sound present and each listen leaves a lot to be discovered each time you hear it.

The album is close to a 5 star album, but not quite. I don't hear anything that I would call groundbreaking here, but it is still full of variety and dynamism to make it an album that I find it enjoyable each time I hear it. I highly recommend the album for anyone wanting to explore post rock that doesn't necessarily have to follow the same formula to be effective. This is an excellent addition to my music collection and would be to yours also. 4 strong stars.

 Rave Tapes by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.24 | 40 ratings

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Rave Tapes
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by progadicto

3 stars Mogwai is currently one of the most creative, consistent and honest bands on the post-rock scene. I've listened all their releases during the last years and I got to say that I really like their pretty unique and easily indentifiable style perhaps there are some albums which I don't enjoy much most of their discography is 4 to 5*(following PA ratings).

I was waiting for 'Rave Tapes' expecting some steps beyond the previous and brilliant 'Les Revenants' and even when there are some powerful structural elements present in 'Rave' the truth is that I feel certain lack of inspiration here perhaps is not a bad album. In fact there are some great moments everywhere but (at least for me) not great songs such as in 'Happy Songs'', 'Mr. Beast' or 'Hardcore Will Never Die'' just to mention some of Mogwai highlighted releases.

Into this numerous Mogwai thrilling moments on 'Rave' I got say that 'Remurdered' is one of the jewels of the album perhaps the slow and unnecessary long intro' Same thing 'Simon Feracious', a great song with some unnecessary sections. 'Master Card' surprises me with a very hard and dark atmosphere along with 'The Lord Is Out Of Control' which reminds me some of the best late 90's Mogwai moments.

Resuming: A classic Mogwai album, very enjoyable but not at the top of my favorites but if you like the atmospherical instrumentals fullfilled with guitars and sober effects , this one will be your kind of release' 3*

 Young Team by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.57 | 93 ratings

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Young Team
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mogwai is a band that has had quite a large influence on many post-rock bands and they are credited for the post-rock formula of playing softly, building a long crescendo and reaching the payoff in a loud and noisy climax by the end of the song. While it's true that some of their music follows this formula, for the most part, I don't see where that applies to the majority of their music. What I find is a very effective use of dynamics that aren't always determined simply by the addition of more layers, which is a trap that many post-rock imitators fall into. In this album, you hear the use of that formula only a few times, on "Like Herod" and "Mogwai Fear Satan". I just think that Mogwai does the formula so much better in that they aren't afraid to do variations on the formula or just ignore it all together, and then there is what I said about dynamics earlier.

This being an early album from the band, I went into it expecting it to be more formulaic and noisy. Yes, there is some of that here, but overall, the album is a lot more diverse then I expected. I have grown to love this album and most of their other work too. This album is a lot more rough, as some have pointed out, but I happen to like that in this album. It makes things more real and emotional to me when I listen to it.

Right off the bat, you know this is a dynamic album. There is the build up, climax and release in both the first two tracks. Of course, "Like Herod" has a much longer climatic passage, in fact the soft to loud formula takes place more than once, and there isn't always a build up, sometimes it is an instant change. This song has become a fan favorite and is still a concert staple. "Katrien" uses that dynamic change that Mogwai is famous for and adds some keyboards to the mix. "Radar Maker" is a short keyboard led song that is fairly ambient and a nice change of pace. Ambience continues in Tracy which is named after Tracey Chapman because her song "Fast Car" reminded them of an earlier version of this song. It is played over two prank calls made by the band, but the calls are left in the background creating an ambient feel. It stays pretty quiet throughout with only a slight crescendo. "R U Still In 2 It" is an almost avant garde type piece with vocals sung by Aiden Moffat from Arab Strap, who has guested from time to time with the band to recreate the song in live performances. It has a strange sort of beauty, though it is nothing like what you expect. "A Cheery Wave...." is a nice short interlude that could have actually closed the album. But "Mogwai Fear Satan", a 16 minute rock masterpiece does that job quite effectively. This is a beautiful study of dynamics and emotion topped off with a flute weaving around the guitars in the more quiet passages and very excellent drum hooks throughout. It ends free floating on feedback and flute quite nicely.

Quite a surprising debut from this iconic band. Very enjoyable, a bit rough around the edges but that works to it's advantage. A little more development from time to time would be nice and some songs would have worked better with less ambient vocals behind them in things like phone conversations, but this is a minor issue. Mogwai's sound would become more adventurous as time goes on, but this album is a definite strong 4 star album.

 EP by MOGWAI album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
3.90 | 11 ratings

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EP
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the advantages of the EP is that it is a good way to try new sounds without a large investment in time or money. This EP works well as a great introduction to Mogwai's style of Post-rock music. There are other EPs that don't work as well, but this one gives you a good balanced sample of their instrumental music.

The EP comes in 3 different versions; one with 4 tracks, another with the same tracks with 2 more added, and another with those 4 tracks plus 6 more added. The latter ends up being the same length as an album, so it works the best. As far as this review goes, the 4 base tracks still give a good example as you have 2 heavy tracks (1 and 4) and 2 lighter, mellower tracks (2 and 3). All of them are great, though I tend to be attracted to the softer side of Mogwai because I love the beauty and simplicity of these songs, but all of them are great examples of post-rock genius.

Mogwai does not fall into the trap that some post-rock bands do of following the typical formula of starting out soft and doing a slow crescendo to a loud climax. It's good to see that the best post-rock bands are venturing away from that formula and Mogwai is no exception. Mogwai is very good at variety and doesn't always have to have lengthy tracks to complete their musical ideas, though they have several lengthy ones also. Their music also utilizes a lot of keyboards and percussive instruments, it isn't always centered around guitars. Even when it does center around guitars though, it isn't always the same "wall of noise" texture either. Variety is the key word in Mogwai's music and the reason why I consider them one of the best post-rock bands in existence right now. I rank them right up there with the best.

This EP itself, however, works as a great introduction to those testing the waters, and is also one of their best EPs. Since I am reviewing the 4-track EP for a stand alone work, my own complaint is that it isn't long enough, of course. Other than that, I still consider it an excellent addition to any collection, but I would search for the EP + 6 version over the 4 track unless you just want a sampling of the music. 4 stars.

 4 Satin by MOGWAI album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1997
3.78 | 4 ratings

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4 Satin
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars The debut EP release 4 SATIN from MOGWAI is an exemplary piece of hypnotic post-rock that incorporates the usual unfurling aspects that post-rock is famous for but adds extra layers of spaciness and chaos to the mix. There are echo effects layered upon swirling synth runs and tasty dueling guitar parts keeping the mid-tempo rhythmic pace with the drums. The ratcheting effect keeps the tension building to satisfying crescendos while repetitive melodies keep the sound effects from spiraling into the chaos zone. Well at least on the first track "Superheros Of BMX."

The second track "Now You're Taken" is a more subdued classic sounding post-rock track that reminds me of the style of Toby Driver in Maudlin Of The Well and Kayo Dot but since this came out before those projects it must be a convergent evolutionary derivative from Slint. The final track "Stereodee" is a majorly tripped out sprawling noisefest that would make Krautrock freakout artists like Amon Duul II, Guru Guru or Can blush as it is an untamed and unapologetic path into a musical meltdown where despite the innocent Stereolab sounding intro, belies its true destination as a seriously addictive arsenal of post-rock explosion into a swirling dervish of true chaotic bliss.

 Les Revenants by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.76 | 22 ratings

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Les Revenants
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Aldebaran_Well

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.

 Les Revenants by MOGWAI album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.76 | 22 ratings

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Les Revenants
Mogwai Post Rock/Math rock

Review by 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.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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