A review: Mogwai – ‘Les Revenants EP’

My original review of ‘Les Revenants EP’ can be found on CuttingEdge.be, this here below was merely an exercise in preparation of a translating exam. Fun though!

The Scottish band Mogwai, one of the brightest stars in the post-rock sky, have written the soundtrack to the French zombie series ‘Les Revenants’. This EP is only a warm-up while we wait for the full-album that is set for a release on the 25th of February. Yet this is all but a collection of leftovers. In just four short tracks, they create their own world like only a post-rock band can, and all this without turning to the usual tricks of the genre.

mogwai

You would think that the band saw at least part of the work they are soundtracking as a means to get inspired. But in this case, the inspirational wave rolled the other way. All the band read were translated passages of the script, on which they based their ideas. Their music created the atmosphere that was the point of departure for the cast and crew and that, in a way, pushed the series in a certain direction.

And what a direction it was. ‘Les Revenants’, or ‘Those Who Return’, takes on the whole zombie mania from a more melancholic perspective. The zombies are wandering, they don’t realize yet that they’ve lost their place on earth, and since their return caused a shift in the natural balance side-effects are about to kick in. As John Cummings of Mogwai describes it, the series is ‘calmly unsettling’. A description that fits the music equally well.

They wanted to stay away from pompous maneuvers as far as possible. On this EP, Mogwai sound exceptionally subtle, measured, balanced, even subdued. ‘Wizard Motor’ is an excellent example of their craftsmanship: a perfect build-up and loud, pressing riff that dashes over the staff as elegantly as it is threatening. It turns out to be the only song with really loud peaks.

‘Soup’ is more ambient and plays with the boundaries of what exactly can be called a song. ‘The hut’ successfully keeps its balance between haunting chords and the will to appeal, not frighten. The repeated piano melody combined with perfectly dosed drums makes you leer over your shoulder. Sounds from the home environment seem to easily blend in with the music, which would explain why it took us minutes to notice that the church bells weren’t an actual part of ‘This Messiah needs watching’. The intense yet calming melody of tiny bells could be on endless repeat for all we care by the way.

Masters in subtle threat, that’s what Mogwai are. And then to know this is just the appetizer.

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