I first caught wind of this group about a year before this particular album came out. I was listening to some late-night radio show somewhere on a long road trip between departure and destination when the announcer came on the radio and announced a track by the group named after a small furry creature from the 80's movie. Laughing to myself at the name, I settled back into the seat of my car and listened as the instrumental track built from a bubble to a boil, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as I tried to commit the name to memory. Unfortunately, the trip was long, and by the time I got home, the great song I had heard was out-of-mind.
Jump ahead one year later, I'm at the music store randomly shoving through CDs when I run across a familiar name; Mogwai. Two albums sat before me, so I decided to pick up the one that was newer, thinking that if the group had progressed any since I heard them some time ago, I'd still be in for a treat.
Upon putting the disc in my player, I was greated by the opening track, "Yes, I am a long way from home," and shuffled along with it's slow and gentle progression. After building for almost 4 minutes, it busted loose a little and I remembered why I had been so intrigued on that long ago road trip. I should have known by the ominous beginnings of the second track, "Like Herod," that I'd be in for even more of a pummeling, but instead I cranked up my stereo wondering why things were so quiet. When it took hold in full-force, I about blew a gasket in my head. Guitars squeeling, drums blaring, the song cranks up the noise past the red level indicator and then some several times over the course of its 11 minutes. Excellent.
The album then shifts gears again a bit with the weepy "Katrien," the short, piano-driven "Radar Maker," and the subdued "Tracy" before kicking into the excellent "Summer." A version of a track off their Ten Rapid release, the song is short and sweet, but shows the amazing dynamics that the group can attain. After the disconcerting (and kind of annoying) "With Portfolio," the only song one needs to know is "Mogwai Fear Satan." While there are a couple other tracks on the disc, it's the 16-minute album closer that is the epic of the album. It goes from peaceful to dissonant several different times and a flute mingles in with the crescendo of guitars and noise. It's a beautifully shifting track that is the cornerstone of the groups sound. As their debut album proper (their first one was a collection of singles), it's an exciting one and I can't wait to hear more from them.