Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Apr 12th, 2016

Mogwai: Atomic

(Temporary Residence Ltd.)

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Few bands today harness the instrumental power and creativity of Mogwai. Whether crafting their own albums or collaborating with others, the Scottish group avoids being predictable at all costs. After the gorgeous, subdued soundtrack they provided to Les Revenants, the band has crafted another masterpiece with Atomic, the soundtrack to the documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise. Opening track “Ether” is a gentle welcome, with horns taking center stage for a more traditional sound. From here, “SCRAM” is much more recognizably Mogwai. The synths on the track mimic the ebb and flow of electricity or energy, and even without having seen the source material, you can hear how it relates back to the theme of atomic power. There isn’t a single wasted track on this album, but a few do stand out beyond the rest. Layered keyboards on “Weak Force” build an atmosphere of unease while remaining beautiful. The final song on the record, intriguingly titled “Fat Man,” begins and ends with a beat that seems to mimic a pulse. That alone makes the song seemed stripped-back and personal, but the pulse gives way to a stunning piano line. While electronics come in later on, it feels very much personal, a reminder of the humanity behind and affected by all of our history harnessing power. People unfamiliar with Mogwai may not be best served by using this record as an introduction to the band. However, for those who already appreciate instrumental post-rock, this is a beautiful, focused piece of work.

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Mogwai: Atomic