Words: Simon Opie
Mogwai really are busy just now - touring, recording and exploring. Last year’s 'Special Moves' was absolutely one of the best live albums of all time, and this year’s 'Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will' was a truly excellent album from a band on top form. Now they have released 'Earth Division', a 4-track EP which explores some quite different avenues.
Unlike Radiohead, they really have put away their electric guitars and they’ve thrown out the drum kit too. They’ve wheeled in the piano and presumably asked regular collaborator violinist/multi-instrumentalist Luke Sutherland to stick around after his outstanding contribution to 'Music For A Forgotten Future'.
The EP is short and bittersweet – four songs that are linked by the pared-back instrumentation and a wistful lyricism, although 'Drunk And Crazy' uses white noise and static overlaid onto the arrangement. Together with 'Get To France' and 'Does This Always Happen', these three instrumental tracks link back to their 'Zidane – A 21st Century Portrait' soundtrack and showcase the growing influence that those compositions have had on Mogwai’s work. 'Hounds Of Winter' is perhaps the odd one out on the EP since it is a gentle song with vocals and some nice atmospheric violin.
'Earth Division' comprises a melancholy quartet that illustrates how far Mogwai’s musical tastes have developed and indeed it seems that Mogwai is now perhaps more of a project than a band, with many musical aspects pulled together by a singular compositional style. 'Earth Division' is also a neat coda to their last twelve month’s endeavours and a fine illustration of their ability to create narrative without rocking out.
STREAM: MOGWAI - Get to France by Pias France
'Earth Division' is available to purchase from iTunes, Amazon.co.uk etc. Head to mogwai.co.uk for more on the band.