MOGWAI-EVERY COUNTRY’S SUN-BOX SET.

Mogwai-Every Country’s Sun-Box Set.

Label:Rock Action Records.

Over the last fifty years, the music industry has been transformed beyond all recognition. One of the biggest changes is how the music buyers purchase and listen to music. Back in the late-sixties and early seventies, most people listened to music on vinyl. Usually, younger record buyers started off buying singles, and eventually graduated to albums when their budget permitted. Buying their first album was bit like a  rite of passage, and everyone remembers where and when they bought their first album and what it was.

Soon, though, not everyone was buying vinyl. By the early seventies, some cars had were fitted with an eight-track which allowed music lovers to enjoy music on the move. While it enjoyed a degree of popularity, the eight-track never captured the imagination of music lovers in the way the cassette did. It’s something that many people still have fond memories of. Especially after the introduction of the Sony Walkman. This allowed people to enjoy music on the move and even record their own mix tapes. For many people this was a game-changer.

So was the introduction of the compact disc in the early eighties. They offered music lovers perfect sound and were said to be indestructible. Many people were won over by this brave new world and soon, record collectors were offloading their vast collections that they had put together over a many years. These they replaced with compact discs and their promise of  perfect sound. This was the start of a new era where perfect sound was within the budget of everyone. It was what everyone wanted. Now they were able to hear  music as the artist intended.

Meanwhile, hi-fi fans were celebrating the introduction of a new way to listen to music, the mini disc. Again it offered perfect sound quality, and soon became part of many hi-fi systems. Many people also bought portable mini disc players which allowed them to listen to music on  the go. However, the mini disc player was short-lived, and was soon consigned to musical history.

Despite the introduction of the compact disc and mini disc, which meant music fans were able to enjoy perfect sound quality, scientists were working away on a new way for people to listen to music…the MP3. It was far removed from the perfect sound quality of the compact disc. Despite that, a new generation of music fans like the idea of being able to carry vast quantities of music on an iPod of MP3 player. They didn’t care about the inferior quality of the music. Instead, they were more interested in how many songs their iPod or MP3 player held. It was a sad day for music. Suddenly, sound quality no longer mattered for many.

That was the least of many people’s worries as a revolution was underway within the musical industry. It would result in many casualties and the musical landscape was transformed forevermore. By the time the revolution was over, and the music industry took shape how people listened to and purchased music had changed considerably.

Sadly, there are still many so-called ‘music fans’ that listen to MP3s on iPods and phones using cheap ear buds, while other listen through their tinny laptop speakers. For them, music is mere background noise. Thankfully, there are still many people who care about music and indeed sound quality. They’re not satisfied with the MP3s and care about sound quality.

This is reflected in how they buy music. Over the last few years, vinyl has made a comeback and sales are at their highest for twenty years. Many older record buyers are regretting selling their original vinyl collections. There’s even been a resurgence of popularity in the cassette. While CDs sales are nothing like they once were, they’re still one of the most popular ways to listen to music.   

Nowadays, when  an artist or band releases a new album they take into account the different formats that people prefer and give them a choice of  various difference formats.That was the case with Mogwai’s ninth studio album,Every Country’s Sun, which was the thirteenth album of their career.  Every Country’s Sun was a multi format release, and was released  CD, MP3 and as a two LP set on heavyweight white vinyl. There was also a  indies only vinyl edition pressed on clear vinyl, and finally, the limited edition box set of Every Country’s Sun. It’s the latest chapter in the Mogwai story, which  began in 1991.

That was when Stuart Braithwaite and Dominic Aitchison first met in Scotland’s musical capital, Glasgow.Four years later, they met drummer Martin Bulloch and formed Mogwai, which film buffs will remember, is a character from the movie Gremlins. Mogwai was always meant as a temporary name, until they came up with something better.  

Later in 1995,  three become four when guitarist John Cummings  joined Mogwai. Since then, John’s role in Mogwai has changed, and he’s now described as  playing “guitar and laptop,” as is regarded as the maestro when it comes to all things technical. However, not long after John Cummings joined Mogwai in 1995, the nascent band started honing their sound and making plans for the future.

In 1996, Mogwai founded their own record label Rock Action Records. It would play an important part in the rise and rise of Mogwai over the next twenty-one years.  So would Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom Studios, which was cofounded by Mogwai and Tony Doogan in 2005. It’s situated in  the West End of Glasgow, and is a home from home for Mogwai, when they record a new album. That was still to come.

Before that, Mogwai released their debut single Tuner on their newly founded label Rock Action Records. Tuner was released to critical acclaim and the NME awarded it their single of the week award.  Later in 1996, Mogwai released two further singles.  Angels v. Aliens and Summer. By then, Mogwai were well on their way to becoming  one of the hottest bands of the late nineties.

Mogwai’s career continued apace in 1997, when they released two more singles.The first of these was New Paths To Helicon Pt. 1, which  showed Mogwai growing and maturing as a band. NME agreed, and just like their  debut single Tuner, New Paths To Helicon Pt. 1 won NME’s single of the week award. The followup Club Beatroot  was also well received by critics. This was the perfect time for Mogwai to record their debut album, Mogwai Young Team.

Mogwai Young Team.

For Mogwai Young Team, Mogwai brought onboard Brendan O’Hare the Teenage Fanclub’s drummer. Another guest artist was Aidan Moffat of Falkirk based band Arab Strap. He added the vocal to R U Still In 2 It, while the rest of Mogwai Young Team consisted of instrumentals. Mogwai Young Team was recorded at Chem 19 studios and produced by two of  Scotland’s top producers, ex-Delgado Paul Savage and Andy Miller. Once Mogwai Young Team was completed, it was then released on Scotland’s  biggest record label, Chemikal Underground Records.

Before its release, Mogwai Young Team was a hailed as a groundbreaking album of post-rock by critics. They were won over by Mogwai Young Team, and Mogwai were hailed as a band with a big future. 

That proved to be a perceptive forecast. When Mogwai Young Team was released on 21st October 1997, sold over 30,000 copies and reached number seventy-five in the UK. The Mogwai Young Team were on their way. However, a few changes were about to take place.

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Come On Die Young.

A year later, Mogwai were back in the studio recording their sophomore album Come On Die Young. Much had changed. A new member had joined the band, Barry Buns a flautist and sometimes pianist, who had already played a few gigs with the band. He was invited to become the fifth member of Mogwai.  Not long after this, violinist Luke Sutherland joined Mogwai, but not on a full-time basis. This wasn’t the only change.

Recording of what became Come On Die Young was split between New York and Glasgow. This time, they’d forsaken Chem 19 in Blantyre and recorded parts of the album in Rarbox Road Studios, New York. Some sessions took place in Glasgow’s Cava Studios. Producing Come On Die Young was Dave Fridman. For some critics, his addition changed Mogwai’s sound.

Some critics felt his production style resulted in a much more orthodox sounding album. However, others felt that Come On Die You was part of Mogwai discovering their “sound” and direction. Come On Die Young is a much more understated, but also ambient, experimental, multi-textured and melodic. There’s a fusion of ambient, grunge and post rock on Come On Die Young, which was released in 29th March 1999. 

On its release, Come On Die Young  reached number twenty-nine in the UK. Mogwai it seemed  were now on their way to finding their sound and fulfilling the potential that was evident on their debut album. This was apparent with tracks of the quality of  CODY and Hugh Dallas s. However, like all innovative bands, Mogwai continued to reinvent their music.

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This proved to the case on their eponymous E.P, which  includes Stanley Kubrick, which was recorded in the exotic surroundings of Cowdenbeath in  Fife. Burn Girl Prom Queen was recorded at Cava Studios, in Mogwai’s hometown of Glasgow. These two tracks were part of E.P., which further enhanced Mogwai’s reputation as post rock pioneers. So did their third album Rock Action.

Rock Action.

Mogwai’s music continued to evolve on their third album 2001s Rock Action. More use was made of electronics on Rock Action. This was part of a process that would continue over the next few albums. There were even more layers and textures on Rock Action, as Mogwai continued to expand their sonic palette. Seven of the songs were instrumentals, while Dial Revenge featured Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals. Again, Rock Action was produced by Dave Fridman, while recording took place in New York and at Glasgow’s Cava Studios. Once Rock Action was completed, it became Mogwai’s first album to be released on Play It Again Sam.

Rock Action was released in April 2001, and proved to be Mogwai’s most successful album. It reached number twenty-three in the UK. Critics remarked upon how Rock Action wasn’t as dark an album as its predecessors. That didn’t mean that Mogwai’s view of the world had changed. They were still worldweary which   would become a Mogwai trademark.

Six months after the release of Rock Action, Mogwai returned with another single, The My Father My King. It was released in October 2001, and was described “as the companion piece to Rock Action.” A sticker on the cover bore Mogwai’s description of the single as: “two parts serenity and one part death metal.” That was about to change. Soon, they’d be happy people writing happy songs and making a breakthrough into the American market.

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Happy Songs For Happy People.

Happy Songs For Happy People was released in 2003, and Mogwai’s evolution continued. Their music continued further down the electronic road. While Mogwai still deployed electric guitars and a drummer, synths were playing a more important role in Mogwai’s music. So were the addition of strings and a piano. They played their part in what was a much more understated album. Part of this change in style was a change of producer.

Tony Doogan was brought onboard as producer, and replaced Dave Fridman. Gone were transatlantic recording sessions. Happy Songs For Happy People was recorded at Cava Sound Studios, Glasgow. On its release in June 2003, Happy Songs For Happy People was well received by critics. Critics drew attention to I Know You Are But What Am I? and Hunted By A Freak,  two of the album’s highlights. The critics also welcomed Mogwai’s latest change in style. So did record buyers. 

While Happy Songs For Happy People only reached number forty-seven in the UK, it spent a week in the American charts, reaching number 182 in the US Billboard 200. After four albums, Mogwai had broken into the American market. Happy Songs For Happy People it seemed, was a landmark album.

Having made inroads into the lucrative American market, Mogwai didn’t rush their fifth album. It was released three years after Happy Songs For Happy People. There’s a reason for this. They were working on tree separate projects. 

The first was their fifth album Mr. Beast. Then there was the first soundtrack they’d written and recorded. This was for the 2006 movie Zidane: A 21st Century Soundtrack. Mogwai also collaborated with Clint Mansell on the soundtrack to The Fountain. Although soundtracks were a nice sideline for Mogwai, their fifth album Mr. Beast was of huge importance. Especially, if it was a commercial success in America.

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Mr. Beast.

Recording of Mr. Beast took place at Mogwai’s new studio, Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow. Co-producing Mr.Beast with Mogwai, was Tony Doogan. Between April and October 2005, Mogwai honed their fifth album, and after six months, Mr. Beast was complete. It was Mogwai’s most important album.

Everyone realised the importance of Mr. Beast. Mogwai were on a verge of breaking into the American market. Happy Songs for Happy People had got Mogwai’s foot in the door of the American market. Now was the time for the Mogwai Young Team to kick the door of its hinged, and make their presence felt.  That was what Mogwai intended to do with tracks like Travel Is Dangerous, Friend Of The Night and We’re No Here. They featured Mogwai at their innovative and creative best. This trio of tracks were part of an album that would please critics, Mr. Beast.

On its release, it was mostly, to critical acclaim. Critics were fascinated at how Mogwai’s music continued to evolve. For Mogwai, standing still was going backwards. Record buyers agreed and expected Mogwai to continually release groundbreaking and innovative. That was what Mogwai delivered.

When Mr. Beast was released on 5th March 2006, record buyers found an album of groundbreaking and innovative music. It climbed thirty-one in the UK. Across the Atlantic, Mr. Beast reached number 128 in the US Billboard 200. Mogwai were now one of Scotland’s most successful musical exports. They were certainly well on their way to becoming Scotland’s most innovative band. This was a title they weren’t going to give up without a fight. 

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Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

Following the release of Mr. Beast, the other two projects that Mogwai had been working on, were released. The first was Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. This was project that came about in late 2005, when artist Douglas Gordon asked Mogwai to write and record a soundtrack to a film he was making about footballer Zinedine Zidane. This was Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Having heard the details of the project, it didn’t take Mogwai long agree to provide the soundtrack  to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which gave them their entry into the world of soundtracks.  

Mogwai grasped this opportunity, and recorded Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait at their Castle Of Doom Studios. During the sessions, Mogwai recorded ten tracks, which were produced by Tony Doogan. However, when the soundtrack was released, it came baring a secret.

This was the hidden track Untitled, which was a twenty-three minute epic, that  featured Mogwai at their most inventive. That was the case throughout Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Most critics realised this. However, a few didn’t seem to ‘get’ Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Despite the slings and arrows of the critics that didn’t get Mogwai’s introduction into the world of soundtracks, the critics that mattered gave Mogwai the recognition they deserved when Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait was released on 30th October 2006. Then less than a month later, the soundtrack to The Fountain was released on 27th November 2006.

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The Fountain.

The Fountain was a collaboration between contemporary classic composer Clint Mansell, string quartet the Kronos Quartet and Mogwai. To some onlookers, it looked like an unlikely collaboration. That wasn’t the case though.

Mogwai had spent December 2005 locked away in their Castle Of Doom Studios with producer Tony Doogan. Other parts of The Fountain project were recorded in New York and Los Angeles. Then once the project was complete, The Fountain was released on 27th November 2006.

When The Fountain soundtrack was released, the reviews were positive. Mogwai’s contribution to the soundtrack had proved vital, while the Kronos Quartet proved a perfect foil the Mogwai Young Team. Mogwai’s lasted soundtrack had enhanced their reputation as the go-to guys for a soundtrack. That would their sideline in the future. However, before they released another soundtrack, Mogwai would release another two albums.

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The Hawk Is Howling.

The first of these was The Hawk Is Howling. To ensure they kept their title of Scotland’s most innovative bands, Mogwai returned to the studio where it all began, Chem 19 in Blantyre. 

Andy Miller who had co-produced Mogwai Young Team, Mogwai’s debut album was chosen to produce what became The Hawk Is Howling. This was Mogwai’s sixth album and marked a first. It was Mogwai’s first album to consist of just instrumentals. Among them were I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead, The Sun Smells Too Loud, Batcat and Scotland’s Shame. They feature the post rock pioneers pushing musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond. Once The Hawk Is Howling was recorded, Garth Jones mixed the album at Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow. After that, The Hawk Is Howling was ready for release.

The Hawk Is Howling was released on 22nd September 2008. Critics were won over by The Hawk Is Howling. There were no dissenting voices. This was one of Mogwai’s best albums, and it was no surprise it sold well in the UK and America.

On its release, The Hawk Is Howling reached number thirty-five in the UK and number ninety-seven in the US Billboard 200. It seemed with each album, Mogwai’s music evolved and matured. This resulted in even more success coming their way. Would this continue with Hardcore Will Never Die?

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Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

For their seventh album, Mogwai returned to Chem 19 Studios in Blantyre, where they hooked up with ex-Delgado Paul Savage. Since  he had produced Mogwai’s debut album, Mogwai Young Team Paul had established a reputation as one of Scotland’s best producers. 

By then, Paul Savage had worked with everyone from Franz Ferdinand to R.M. Hubbert. However, it was a very different Mogwai Paul encountered. They were very different to the band who recorded Mogwai Young Team Paul. Their music had evolved and was continuing to do so. They’d matured as musicians and embraced the new technology. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was proof of this.

Here was an album of groundbreaking, genre-melting post-rock with attitude. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was also an album not short on humour. Poppy soulster Lionel Ritchie provided the inspiration for You’re Lionel Ritchine. There was also a celebratory sound to Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

The death of Scotland’s nemesis, Margaret Thatcher sparked celebration in Glasgow’s George Square. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, celebrated provided the soundtrack to the celebrations.  It was just one track on an album of pioneering, post rock music crammed full of hooks, humour and attitude.  Others highlights Mexican Grand Prix, Rano Pano and How To Be A Werewolf .  With music of this quality, surely Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will couldn’t fail? 

Before the release of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, Rano Pano was released as a single. On the flip side was Hasenheide, which didn’t feature on Hardcore Will Never Die. . Things it seemed were looking good for Mogwai.

Yet again, Mogwai won over the majority of critics with Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. A couple of contrarian critics proved to be mere dissenting voices in the wilderness. Most critics realised that Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was one of Mogwai’s finest hours. Record buyers would agree.

Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will reached number thirty-five in the UK and number ninety-seven in the US Billboard 200. For Mogwai, they were now into their third decade as band and had just enjoyed their biggest album to date. The question was, what would Mogwai do next?

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Les Revenants.

The answer to that was Les Revenants, a soundtrack to a French television series.  Les Revenants or The Returned, is essentially a television program about zombies, albeit with a twist. Just like similar films, Les Revenants, finds  the “undead” returning to the town they lived in. However, the zombies in Les Revenants  weren’t how most films portray zombies.  Another difference was the way Mogwai were commissioned.

Usually, someone writing a soundtrack can watch the film they’re writing music to. Not Mogwai. They were just shown a few scripts, which gave them an overview of what the series was about. From there, Mogwai wrote thirteen of the fourteen tracks including Wizard Motor and Hungry Face. They’re two of the album’s highlights.  The other track on Les Revenants was What Are They Doing In Heaven Today, which was written by Charles Elbert Tilney. These fourteen tracks were recorded by Mogwai, who produced Les Revenants with Neil MacMenamin. Once Les Revenants was finished, it was released in February 2013.

Before Les Revenants was released an E.P. was released. It featured four tracks. That was a tantalising taster of what was to come. After all, Mogwai would approach a soundtrack like Les Revenants in a different manner. They wouldn’t do anything predictable. Les Revenants was a case of expect the unexpected. Critics loved Les Revenants and hailed the album as one of the best albums Mogwai had released. However, Mogwai had other ideas.

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Rave Tapes.

Rave Tapes features ten tracks which were written by Mogwai. These tracks were recorded at Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom Studios, in Glasgow. Producing Rave Tapes was ex-Delgado Paul Savage, who had produced previous Mogwai albums and knew how the band worked. This was important, given Mogwai were at last, enjoying the critical acclaim and commercial success their music deserved. Work began on Rave Tapes on the 28th August 2013. 

This was like the first day back at school for Mogwai, as they began recording what was their eighth studio album. The lineup of Mogwai has been settled for a few years. This included a rhythm section of bassist and guitarist Dominic Aitchison, drummer Martin Bulloch and guitarists Stuart Braithwaite and John Cummings who also played piano. Barry Burns plays organ, piano and guitar. at Castle Of Doom Studios, Glasgow, Mogwai recorded the ten tracks that became Rave Tapes, which was released on 20th January 2014.

Rave Tapes was one of the most anticipated albums of 2014. The big question was, what direction Mogwai’s music would head? After all, Mogwai’s music never stands still. It’s in a constant state of evolution. That’s no bad thing. Standing still is akin to going backwards in Mogwai’s book. On Rave Tapes, Mogwai’s music continues to evolve. Musical  genres and influences melt into one on tracks like Remurdered, The Lord Is Out Of Control and Tell Everyone I Love Them. However, one of the most prominent influences on Rave was Krautrock. Add to this ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, indie rock and rock. We hear different sides to Mogwai on Rave Tapes. Whether it’s fuzzy soundscapes or kicking out the jams, Mogwai didn’t disappoint with Rave Tapes.

Critics agreed. Rave Tapes was released to widespread critical acclaim. Superlatives were exhausted in search of a fitting description of what many felt was Mogwai’s finest hour. Some critics wondered aloud whether Mogwai’s music was mellowing. Others felt that Mogwai were improving with age. Record buyers agreed.

When Rave Tapes was released on 14th January 2014, the album reached number ten in Britain and fifty-five in the US Billboard 200 charts. Rave Tapes became Mogwai’s most successful album in Britain and America. Elsewhere, Rave Tapes sold well across Europe. Mogwai were enjoying the most album of their three decade career. However, it would be two years before Mogwai released a new album. Before that, Mogwai decided to celebrate their twentieth anniversary in style.

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Central Belters.

In 2015,  Mogwai were celebrating their twentieth anniversary. By then Mogwai were Scottish music’s elder statesmen, A lot had happened to them during the first twenty years of their career. Mogwai have released eight studio albums and three soundtracks.  That’s not forgetting there’s countless singles, E.P.s and two remix albums. It was official, Mogwai had been one of the hardest working bands in music between 1995 and 2015. They were also one of the most innovative.

It was no surprise that critical acclaim and commercial success accompanied the release of each Mogwai album. Suddenly, the Glasgow-based were enjoying success not just in Britain, but in Europe and in America. Now was the perfect time for Mogwai to release Central Belters,  a  three disc career retrospective box set. Central Belters tells the story of the first twenty years of Mogwai.

With Mogwai not planning to release a studio album or soundtrack during 2015, Central Belters was a perfect stopgap. It was released on 23rd October 2015, and reached number forty in Britain, Central Belters sold reasonably well across the Europe, and was a perfect primer to the first twenty years of Mogwai’s career. The  next chapter of Mogwai’s career began with a soundtrack album, Atomic.

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Atomic.

Having enjoyed celebrating their twentieth anniversary during 2015, Mogwai got back down to business on 1st April 2016. That was when they released Atomic, their first new album in over two years. Atomic was Mogwai’s fourth soundtrack album,

During the  summer of 2015, Mogwai had provided the soundtrack Mark Cousins documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise. It was aired on BBC Four, and was a very personal memoir of growing up in the nuclear age. Using archive film, Mark Cousins constructed an impressionistic cinematic memoir of what was a harrowing time.

Post rock pioneers Mogwai were commissioned to write the soundtrack to Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise.  It was hailed as the perfect backdrop to Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, which was a personal and poignant cinematic memoir. However, after the documentary was aired in the summer of 2015, Mogwai decided to re-record Atomic.

At their Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow, Mogwai were joined be an old friend, occasional band member Luke Sutherland. Mogwai were also joined by Sophie, Robin Proper-Sheppard formerly of The God Machine and Glasgow composer Robert Newth. Together, they got to work on Atomic, which was Mogwai’s twelfth album since they formed back in 1995.

Once Atomic was completed, it was scheduled for release on 1st April 2016. Before that, Atomic was hailed as Mogwai’s finest soundtrack album, and a welcome addition to their discography.

On Atomic, Mogwai combine disparate and eclectic musical genres. Elements of avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica and experimental music are combined with indie-rock, Krautrock, post-rock and psychedelia. This results in a genre-melting, cinematic album. Atomic captivates and compels, and takes the listener  on a musical journey. It veers between dramatic and dreamy, to surreal and lysergic, to beautiful, pensive and understated to melancholy and melodic. Other times the music is dramatic, moody and broody. One thing the music never is, is boring. That is one thing that can never be levelled against Mogwai. Instead, it was another case of always expect the unexpected.

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That’s been the case since Mogwai were formed in 1995, and released their debut album Mogwai Young Team. Since then, it’s always been a case of expect the unexpected from the  Mogwai, who continue to release albums of ambitious and innovative music. There was no way that Mogwai would contemplate recording the same album twice. Instead, they leave that to lesser bands who specialise in albums of twee or pseudo-intellectual music. That isn’t Mogwai’s bag. They’re constantly moving forward musically and making music that pushes boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. Proof of that is Every Country’s Sun, which is their ninth studio album and thirteenth overall.  

Every Country’s Sun.

Every Country’s Sun is Mogwai’s first studio album since they released Rave Tapes in January 2014. However, Mogwai haven’t been resting on their laurels and enjoying the fruits of the rock star lifestyle. That isn’t Mogwai’s style. Since the release of the Rave Tapes, Mogwai have released  the three CD best compilation Central Belters in October 2015, and the soundtrack album Atomic in April 2016. There’s also the small matter of running their own record label Rock Action Records and their Castle Of Doom studio in Glasgow’s West End. Still, the four members of Mogwai found the time to return to the studio and record their ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun, which showcases their new sound.

When the time came for Mogwai to record  Every Country’s Sun, they didn’t renew their successful  partnership with Tony Doogan, who had produced their most recent album Atomic. Tony Doogan had also produced Mr. Beast and Zidane-A 21st Century Portrait, and is part of Mogwai’s inner circle. He knows Mogwai better than most, and knows that they often work with different producers. That was the case on Every Country’s Sun, where Mogwai renewed their partnership with experienced American producer Dave Fridmann.

The last time Mogwai had worked with Dave Fridmann was on Come On Die Young, which was released in 1999. Since then, much had happened for Mogwai and Dave Fridmann. Mogwai have released twelve albums and Dave Fridmann now has over 200 production credits to his name. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in indie music, including Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Jane’s Addiction, The Delgados, MGMT and The Vaccines. Dave Fridmann had beefed up his CV since the last time he worked with Mogwai.

Having made the decision to work with Dave Fridmann, Mogwai decided to record Every Country’s Sun at their own  Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow. The alternative  was for Mogwai to travel to New York to work with Dave Fridmann at Tarbox Road Studios in New York. That was unnecessary expense, considering that Mogwai had their own studio. They could always send the tracks over to Dave Fridmann in New York. This was very different to when Mogwai recorded their debut album Mogwai Young Team in 1996,

Each day, drummer Martin Bulloch, bassist Dominic Aitchison, guitarist and vocalist Stuart Braithwaite plus multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns entered Castle Of Doom Studios and began laying down the eleven tracks. These tracks were sent to Dave Fridmann in New York, who took charge of production. Gradually, Every Country’s Sun started to take shape and Mogwai were well on their way to completing what would be their first studio album in over three years. Eventually, Mogwai completed recording Every Country and Dave Fridmann mixed the album at Tarbox Road Studios. All that remained was for the album to be mastered by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road Studios, in London. Now Mogwai were ready to embark upon a new chapter in a career that began twenty-two years ago in 1995.

Since then, post rock pioneers Mogwai have enjoyed an unrivalled longevity, and are now one of the most successful Scottish bands of their generation. Remarkably, the three original members of the band, Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison and  Martin Bulloch still remain are still part of Mogwai’s and played their part in latest album ambitious and innovative album, Every Country’s Sun

There was an air of excitement when Mogwai announced the arrival of Every Country’s Sun earlier in 2017. The big question among critics and cultural commentators was what direction would Mogwai’s music head in? Most agreed that Every Country’s Sun would mark another stylistic departure for Mogwai.

Side One.

As Coolverine opens Every Country’s Sun, there’s a degree of urgency as synths tremble and shiver almost nervously. They meander along, before a drum cracks and powers the melodic arrangement along. Meanwhile, a subtle bass joins a shimmering crystalline guitar while a vortex of synths swirl. Soon, there’s a mesmeric quality to the carefully crafted arrangement as it flows, twists, turns and swirls all the time revealing its secrets. Later, there’s a lysergic sound as drums crack and join the bass and fuzzy synths. By then, the arrangement is building, and sweeps the listener off their feet, as it veers from dreamy, euphoric and dramatic to anthemic as Mogwai seamlessly combine Balearic, electronica, post rock and space rock. In doing so, they create an elegant, cinematic, hymnal that sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

Mogwai throw a curveball as a buzzing sound makes its presence felt on Party In The Dark. Soon, it’s all change Mogwai’s rhythm section provide a 4/4 backdrop to one of the most poppy sounding songs they’ve ever committed to vinyl. It’s also one of the few tracks to feature Stuart Braithwaite’s vocal. Effects have been added to the vocal which sits back in the mix, and is surrounded by the pounding, driving rhythm section, jangling guitars and banks of synths. They play their part in uplifting and joyous anthem where perfect pop meets psychedelia and electronica.

Tribal drums open Brain Sweeties and provide an ominous backdrop before a tender, chiming guitar adds a contrast as the arrangement flows along. Soon, an electric piano plays and is joined by the rhythm section. Together, they create a dreamy, hypnotic track that floats along. Especially when the arrangement is stripped bare, leaving just the piano. Even when the arrangement rebuilds, there’s still a dreamy, hypnotic and cinematic quality to this slice of musical sunshine.

Side Two.

Straight away, there’s a moody, ruminative post rock sound to Crossing The Road Material. A chirping guitar is joined by a distant searing guitar and the rhythm section. The drums have a ratty indie rock sound and crack as the arrangement swirls and builds as Mogwai jam. By then, Mogwai deploy one of their secret weapons…distortion. Despite its use, a melodic and memorable  sounding post rock track is unfolding. As Mogwai lock into a tight groove, they put twenty-years of experience to good use. Having reached a crescendo, the track becomes understated and elegiac as it meanders memorably and melodically to a close.

Lysergic describes the thick, lush synth sounds that open Aka 47. Soon, they’re joined by a dark, menacing bass synth. Adding to the dark, cinematic sound are gnarled guitar and eerie synths. Deep in the multilayered mix are a myriad of otherworldly and sinister sounds. They play their part in a chilling and sombre cinematic sounding track, that has been inspired by Mogwai’s recent soundtrack work.

 20 Size starts of slowly, with instruments flitting in and out of the mix. Soon, a searing guitar, pounding drums is joined by synths that beep and squeak. At the heart of the action is Mogwai’s rhythm section guitars. They play slowly and deliberately, referencing classic rock, but moving the arrangement in the direction of grunge and post rock. Playing a supporting role are the synths who fill out and fatten the arrangement. Playing a starring role, are Mogwai’s rhythm section and guitars who find their inner rocker during another explosive track that is akin to the sonic equivalent of a firework’s display.

 20 Size starts of slowly, with instruments flitting in and out of the mix. Soon, a searing guitar, pounding drums is joined by synths that beep and squeak. At the heart of the action is Mogwai’s rhythm section guitars. They play slowly and deliberately, referencing classic rock, but moving the arrangement in the direction of grunge and post rock. Playing a supporting role are the synths who fill out and fatten the arrangement. Playing a starring role, are Mogwai’s rhythm section and guitars who find their inner rocker on what’s akin to a sonic equivalent of a firework’s display.

 20 Size starts of slowly, with instruments flitting in and out of the mix. Soon, a searing guitar, pounding drums is joined by synths that beep and squeak. At the heart of the action is Mogwai’s rhythm section guitars. They play slowly and deliberately, referencing classic rock, but moving the arrangement in the direction of grunge and post rock. Playing a supporting role are the synths who fill out and fatten the arrangement. Playing a starring role, are Mogwai’s rhythm section and guitars who find their inner rocker on what’s akin to a sonic equivalent of a firework’s display.

Side Three.

A chirping guitar is panned hard right on 1000 Foot Face, while a lo-fi synth is panned hard left. In the middle are the tender, ethereal harmonies while drums pitter, patter. At one point, the tape quivers as the elegiac vocals deliver what sounds like a mantra. This they do, against an understated, but carefully crafted arrangement. It shows another side of Mogwai on a track that is beautiful, dreamy, meditative, mesmeric and melodic.

Mogwai pay homage to Public Enemy on Don’t Believe The Fife, which is a take off of Don’t Believe The Hype. It’s one of the longer tracks on the album, and straight away, has a dark, moody and cinematic sound. Drums pound and crack, with the double tapped sound providing the arrangement’s heartbeat. Meanwhile synths meander, shimmer and quiver, veering between dark, to hopeful and rueful. Meanwhile, the bass probes its way through the arrangement, as synths reverberate adding to the ruminative and sound. Up until then, the arrangement is almost spartan and spacious. This changes when keyboards emerge from the arrangement, which is underpinned by the drums. The final piece of the jigsaw are the blistering, rocky guitars that cut through the track. By the end of this captivating two-part opus, Mogwai have provided more excitement and enjoyment than a weekend in the Kingdom of Fife.

Side Four.

The guitar that opens Battered At A Scramble is heavily distorted as it cuts its way across the arrangement. It’s all change at 1.29. Gone is the distortion as arrangement explodes. The rhythm section and searing guitar combine as Mogwai work their way through the gears. Again, they’re in touch with their inner rocker as blistering, scorching,  and fuzzy guitars take centre-stage as the rhythm section power the arrangement along. By then, it’s as if Mogwai is channelling the spirit of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and even Big Country as a glorious wall of sound assails the listener. It features chameleon like Mogwai at their hard rocking best, as they show yet another side to their music.

Mogwai keep on rocking on Old Poisons, where they carve out a melodic slice of hard rock that later, heads in the direction of psychedelia, grunge, space rock and latterly space rock. From the get-go, the rhythm section lock into a groove with scorching fleet-fingered guitar solos. Seamlessly, they unleash washes of rocky guitar licks and riffs, that soar high above the rest of the arrangement. Inspiration seems to include the classic hard rocking and psychedelic sounds of late-sixties and early seventies; Neil Young’s grunge era and the recent space revival. Midway through this blistering wall of sound, the volume drops but the intensity doesn’t. Still Mogwai play with speed, power and ferocity as they keep on rocking in the free world. Soon, Mogwai kick out the jams and play with power and intensity during another uber rocky anthem.

Closing Every Country’s Sun is the title-track, which is a musical dichotomy.  That is apparent from the moment shimmering, crystalline, angular sounds emerge from the dark, ominous arrangement. It hints at what’s to come over the next 5.38. Playing a leading role are the searing, scorching, blistering and distorted guitars while rhythm section anchor the frenetic arrangement. This includes thunderous drums, crashing cymbals, while synths create a vortex of darkness and drama. Each member of Mogwai plays their part as they ensure that Every Country’s Sun closes the album on a memorable and dramatic high, with another cinematic epic. This is just part of the story of Every Country’s Sun.

There’s still a lot more to discover within the  depths of the luxurious Every Country’s Sun Box Set. This includes a CD, a two LP set pressed on heavyweight white vinyl and a download code. Then there’s a limited edition six track 12″ of album demos which are  a every welcome addition and featured Mogwai at their inventive best. In the box set there’s also a set of art prints and a signed 12×12 screen print. Just like the indies only pressing on clear vinyl, the pressing on heavyweight white vinyl is of the highest quality. Don’t expect to hear any snap, crackle on pop, as this is a quality product from Mogwai’s Rock Action Records. However, the Every Country’s Sun box set is a limited edition, so it’s a case of grab a copy while you and can and enjoy Mogwai’s comeback.

Every Country’s Sun marks the triumphant, rocky and explosive return of the Mogwai Young Team. Three years have passed since they released their eighth studio album Rave Tapes in January 2014. Over three years later, and Mogwai return with Every Country’s Sun a carefully crafted epic album. It’s also poppy, joyous and uplifting and sometimes, elegiac and ethereal. Other times, the music is dark,  dramatic, eerie, moody, ominous and otherworldly. Often, there’s a cinematic sound to Mogwai’s music, as they switched seamlessly between and combine musical genres and influences.

Mogwai combine elements of numerous disparate musical genres, ranging from classic rock, grunge, pop, post rock, psychedelia and space rock, to ambient, avant-garde, the Berlin School, electronica, experimental music and Krautrock. These are all part of the rich and vibrant musical tapestry that is Mogwai’s ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun, which was recently released by their own Rock Action Records. Every Country’s Sun and is Mogwai’s finest hour. 

The grand old men of Scottish music put their twenty-two years of experience to good use on their latest carefully crafted opus Every Country’s Sun. It finds Mogwai reaching new musical heights, on this latest album of ambitious and groundbreaking music. Continually, Mogwai push musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes way beyond, on Every Country’s Sun. It’s the thirteenth album that Mogwai have released since 1996.

Mogwai have come a long way since then, and are now by far one of the most successful Scottish bands of their generation. Many of the bands that started out alongside Mogwai have called time on their career. It’s a similar case with bands that were formed long after Mogwai started out. Long gone are the days when Scotland produced many a successful band. Sadly, gone are the days when groups like The Blue Nile, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions,  Teenage Fanclub and the Trashcan Sinatras enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim. 

Nowadays, it seems that Scottish music is largely populated by third-rate bands who create albums that are mediocre at best.  Occasionally a new band makes a breakthrough, with an album that excites even the most cynical critic.  Unfortunately, many bands and artists fail to build on that album, and never live up to their breakthrough album.  Sadly, it seems, Scotland is no longer blessed with a plethora of talented up-and-coming bands. The only saving grace for Scottish music is that some of its bigger and more established bands are still around and making groundbreaking music. 

This includes Mogwai, who rode to the rescue of the damsel in distress that is the Scottish music industry. Mogwai have returned with the Magnus Opus that is Every Country’s Sun, which is a career-defining album. Every Country’s Sun stands head and shoulders above the rest of albums released during 2017, and in most countries, Every Country’s Sun would be a certainty for its most prestigious musical award. After all, Mogwai’s cinematic epic and career-defining album Every Country’s Sun has been the glittering prize during what has been another annus horribilis for Scottish music.

Mogwai-Every Country’s Sun-Box Set.

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