Mogwai – Simon Ferocious
There’s nothing particularly unique about this video – a plane carrying skydivers takes off and they jump out and float through the air. In a post-Felix Baumgartner world, a jump video with no gimmicks or tricks should feel boring, but something about the combination of the jumpers’ slow descent and Mogwai‘s fuzzed-out soundtrack leads to the same serenity people report feeling while looking at Mark Rothko’s paintings.
Active Child – You Are All I See – 08.23.11
Cavernous choir-like touches and Pat Grossi’s clear, pure vocals make for a somewhat otherworldly feeling on Active Child’s first full-length, You Are All I See. A perfect album for quiet introspection, Active Child breaks free a bit when pairing up with Tom Krell of How To Dress Well for the excellent “Playing House”. Click here to download the track.
Washed Out – Within and Without – 07.12.11
The first full-length album from Washed Out (aka Atlanta’s Ernest Greene) is a mix of ultra-chill tracks, love letters to disco and 90s dance music, and a smattering of truly beautiful tracks – “Eyes Be Closed”, “Far Away”, and single “Amor Fati”. While gaining pop-culture clout by having his song “Feel It All Around” featured in the Portlandia opening credits, Greene shows he’s more than just a blip on the radar with Within and Without. Click to download “Amor Fati” and “Eyes Be Closed“.
Mogwai – Earth Division EP – 09.13.11
On the Earth Division EP, the normally expansive Mogwai does an excellent job hemming themselves in to create a lovely and restrained album that reflects the nature of the medium. Reminiscent of their work with Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet for The Fountain, the band has employed strings and piano to soften their sound a bit, culminating with the stunning “Hound of Winter”. Mogwai doesn’t completely depart from their signature sound, though – “Drunk and Crazy” starts cold and mechanical, loud and razor-edged. In a moment of calm reflection strings and piano enter, connecting it to the rest of the EP, then reincorporates the electronic elements as uncertainty takes hold again.
Imagine you are standing on a cliff, waves crashing endlessly below you as the oppressive gray sky bears down and rain soaks you to the bone. This is generally what it is like to listen to Mogwai. This is generally not the case on their latest record, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. Make no mistake – Mogwai is still the same Glaswegian band we know and love, but this time around there’s a hint of sunlight behind the clouds.
Several songs on HWNDBYW call to mind other artists, but only in serving to highlight how Mogwai has influenced their sound as opposed to the other way around. Minus the Bear has “San Pedro” and M83 has “Death Rays”, one of the album’s better tracks. Also of note is “Rano Pano” – the ultra-crunchy guitar and repeated ascending melody are well-fit to score Donnie Darko should an alternate music cut ever be needed.
Expansive, ambient, and strong, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. augments the typical rock-instrument roll call with strings, organ, piano, and electronic pops and clicks to build itself above the breakers.
Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. drops 02.15.11.
Tour dates, videos, and more at their Sub Pop artist page.
Download “San Pedro” and “Rano Pano“.