To celebrate 20 years as a band is an achievement, to celebrate 20 years as one of Glasgow’s leading bands, that still delivers quality hits, is iconic.
Mogwai has achieved the latter and has not failed to impress with their latest offering in the ten-track Atomic: A Soundtrack by Mogwai.
Running strong from their dominating 2013 record Rave Tapes the quartet are now focusing on soundtracks and scores with Atomic accompanying a documentary on the impact of the nuclear age.
‘Ether’ is a haunting opening to the album with a slow almost angelic build up to the main body of the track giving off the elusion that you could be going on a visual adventure; aptly falling into the documentary’s category.
Atomic has songs emulating the idea of destruction and despair mixed alongside positive kaleidoscopic undertones to mirror the documentary, of the same name, that is constructed entirely from archived film looking into the disasters caused by nuclear bombs and protests, while walking hand in hand with the positive results from the nuclear age in MRI scans and x-rays.
The album flows effortlessly to this ideology with ‘Bitterness Centrifuge’ offering a darker energy to the majority of tracks on offer.
Picture the scene, the world has just disintegrated in front of your eyes, but among the wreckage there is a slight air of hope; with long, low synth notes and steady drumming ‘Bitterness Centrifuge’ is the defining track on the album.
With the lack of lyrics (there are none) Atomic could become tedious in the wrong setting, but due to the excellent mixing and diversity in tracks from the faster paced ‘U-235’ to the mellow and mesmerising violin chimes of ‘Are You A Dancer’ it is fair to say Mogwai have perfected the balance within this album.
As a whole Atomic works effortlessly well and despite not watching the documentary the beats, synth notes and mystical effects, especially on penultimate song ‘Tzar’, transport the listener into a parallel universe.
Words: Lorne Gillies