Tuesday, 27 January 2015

EP Review - Mogwai - Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1

There is no doubt that the most recent album by Mogwai, 2014's Rave Tapes,  was a success on a lot of different levels.  It was an interesting turn from a band who continue to make constantly great records.  It also continued a great run of releases by the band, from their 2012 album Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will,  the Earth Division  EP, and the Les Revenants  OST.  Completing a year that will rank as one of the band's most important, they releasing this six track EP, Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1, at the tail end of 2014..

The immediate issue with this however, being a companion to Rave Tapes, is that it's split directly down the middle - six tracks, three brand new, three remixes.  This causes a thematic issue - whilst the three all new tracks are certainly worth the time of any casual fan, the remixes are primarily for fans of the band that take apart each vocoder and bass line to find meaning.

Your mileage will vary depending on which group of fan you fall into.  The Blanck Mass remix of Remurdered,  titled Re-Remurdered,  is pulsing, bassy and certainly different, but it hollows out the dramatic tension that the original track manages to conjure, and in doing undoes the denouement that occurs later in the far superior Mogwai original.  It throws almost all that is recognisable out and barrels in bleeps and ravaging basslines that makes for a strong track on the face of it but it's hard for it to reach above that of the perfect original.

The Pye Corner Audio remix of No Medicine for Regret  however is pretty wonderful - and the best remix on the EP.  The ethereal vibes and the time stretched production turns the original into an all new composition, reborn as what starts as a droney ambient journey, with a pulsing Field-esque sawbass coming in at the 3 minute mark, giving way to the shimmery guitar of the original track.  And lastly the Nils Frahm remix of The Lord is Out of Control  strips the entire song back to Frahm's signature piano lament and whilst it's pretty and fragile, like the best of Frahm's work, it sadly doesn't really make any statement.

The strength in the EP comes from the three all-new tracks.  Lead single Teenage Exorcists  is the kind of exciting thing that Mogwai don't do very often - vocals and a 'normal' structure.  It's short, sweet, pointed, and rushes around being as loud as it ends right from the start, and you can see why it was left off Rave Tapes.  It is worth the price of admission alone.  I'd like to hear more Mogwai like this, but perhaps an album of it might wear me out.  History Day  however sounds like Mogwai doing their recent Mogwai thing, appearing more like a Hardcore...  composition rather than Rave Tapes.

HMP Shaun William Ryder,  which continues the tradition of instant classic Mogwai track titles, is another strong cut from the band, rising into the fuzz of distortion that was actually missing from the majority of Rave Tapes.  It actually calls back to early Mogwai too, with it's quiet-loud dynamic, with the final stretch of the track sounding like a condensed version of Mogwai Fear Satan,  which is absolutely no bad thing.

As a standalone release Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1  is uneven to say the least.  Front heavy with two great and one good Mogwai track, with one interesting remix and two slightly curious but ultimately unnecessary ones. 

- Mark Shields

Mogwai - Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1  is out now via Rock Action Records and is available here.

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