Mogwai: Special Moves

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Mogwai

Album: Special Moves
Label: Rock Action

After teaming up with La Blogothéque impresario Vincent Moon for Adelia, I Want To Love, a short film about a nonagenarian’s first contact with post-rock, Mogwai went in front of the guerilla filmmaker’s cameras again for a concert film titled Burning, which casts the Glaswegians’ precipitous peaks and troughs of feedback-laden noise in appropriately stark black and white. Special Moves is the audio accompaniment to that film, and the first live release from a band known for its galvanizing stage show, here boiled down to the most recognizable songs from six full-lengths, and delivered in a blustery, piano-backed style with a minimum of surprise or stage banter. Tracks like “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead” and “Hunted By A Freak,” which traffic in insurmountable washes of sound and anonymous Vocoder workouts, fare the best here, while the more nuanced pieces feel simultaneously necessary and inessential: Without them, the album would suffer from altitude sickness, as each song hiked the same trail up a mountain of Marshall stacks, but the little daubs of post-rock paint that made the originals work—like the pedal steel on “Cody,” or the plaintive banjo of “2 Rights Make 1 Wrong”—are smudged out here. As a live album, it isn’t especially compelling, but it makes a great point of entry into the band’s high-contrast sound.