Album: Les Revenants Soundtrack
Record Label: Rock Action
Mogwai's score for the French TV thriller is majestic business as usual
Here's the thing with soundtracks; they are very rarely perceived as being things of stand alone merit. Although music in films is often what evokes the most emotion and the way we feel about the things happening on screen, all too rarely is that music placed with in it's own context and allowed to stand for itself. But if any band is capable of condemning such a perspective then it's Mogwai. The Glasgow instrumental rockers have made a career out of soaring, destructive highs that entail that film- score epicness more often than not. Thus, their soundtrack for fantastic French spook- a- thon Les Revenants doesn't necessarily sound like a soundtrack.
It shouldn't be approached as a soundtrack either. When explaining the writing and recording process behind the piece to The Quietus, guitarist John Cummings said: "We were aware of trying to keep it not as a typical soundtrack, more just music that doesn't necessarily do anything that has a bit of presence." This laissez- faire attitude is atypical to the Mogwai song crafting process, but the soundtrack is an unnervingly atmospheric as it is beautiful. A unsettling, tingling chill worms its way down the spine of a lot of the tracks here, allowing for certified levels of mystique, intrigue, and of course (it being a Mogwai album) dynamics.
"Hungry Face" sets the tone stylistically, with it's deep, mournful violins, chiming xylophone melodies and dramatic, fuzz- laden drums, as well as a clear cut ascent. They delve into the creepy straight away afterwards though, with "Jaguar"'s ominous throb and spacious, daunting piano chords all languishing behind a futuristic synth overture. "The Huts" contains a paranoid, lurching guitar trajectory and evolves into a sparse but brilliantly nuanced crawl.
"Fridge Magic" is comprised of twinkling xylophones and heavy handed, doom drenched keys. "Portugal" begins with a spooky synth patter and distorted drones before becoming an exceedingly dark hybrid of distant drums, a hypnotic, unnerving piano melody and ever present rippling fuzz.
Then there are the songs like "Special N." Swelling, climactic beasts where intensity grows and finds comfort throughout. On the aforementioned triumphantly plucked guitar arpeggios join hands with ever more grandiose synth and string arrangements. "Modern" is a glorious mesh of guttural bass, pulsating Fuck Buttons- esque fizzy synths and faded out electronic drums as revolving, intertwining melodies calmly soar. Most majestic of all though is closer "Wizard Motor." Again it relays the hefty, scuzzy bass effects employed several times throughout the record, as well as glacial walls of shimmering electronics and entwining guitars that move to promote the most sky- kissing of effects.
Essentially, "Les Revenants" works and feels like a Mogwai full- length. The only real difference is that this time around they don't need soaring guitars and crushing drums to prove that they are still the masters of dynamics. If you haven't watched Les Revenants it comes highly recommended, but even so, stick this on; it's a majestic piece that conjures visuals of it's own.
Key Tracks: Wizard Motor, Portugal, Modern
For fans of: Explosions in the Sky, Fuck Buttons