It is rare to hear of a band that has been going for 25 years and have no disappointments or mistaken creative left turns. Mogwai: Stuart Braithwaite (guitar, vocals), Barry Burns (guitar, piano, synthesizer, vocals), Dominic Aitchison (bass guitar), and Martin Bulloch (drums), have advanced without a plan since they were teenagers, there have been no secretive meetings to work out the master-plan. Their tenth studio album As The Love Continues, produced by Dave Fridmann, comes 25 years on from the release of the band’s debut single, Tuner/Lower.
Unable to perform the album live, for the time being, Stuart Braithwaite hopes the music can take you from somewhere different to where you are, “Unless you are somewhere really amazing – and then why are you listening to some weird music like this?”
Weird? Naa, Pink Floyd were weird, back in the ’60s, and that was just breaking new ground. No, there is something reassuringly comforting about Mogwai’s music, you may know what to expect but you will never get the same. There is always an edge to make the experience both transcendent and surprising. As The Love Continues shows that Mogwai are still offering solace from the mundane, supplying the soundtrack to whatever movie you are making in your head, mood music with a melodic hook for every occasion.
As The Love Continues is the follow up to 2017’s Every Country’s Sun, Mogwai’s second Top 10 album in a row following 2014’s Rave Tapes. The plan was to record the new album in America but the pandemic led to a relocation to Worcestershire while producer Dave Fridmann remained separated by an ocean. This pandemic necessity was quickly routine and it also bought Mogwai time to create a truly polished piece.
A quick nod to the Floyd, the album opens with To The Bin My Friends, Tonight We Vacate Earth, and a recording of one of their friends mumbling the nonsense phrase in his sleep. The music begins in a dream-like trance, building slowly throughout it’s 5 minutes and 8 seconds to a killer hypnotic riff and a magnificent final crescendo, setting the controls for a journey into the cosmos.
Dry Fantasy was the first track from the album to be premiered, a celestial track centred around a reverberating synth repetition, which reaches a state of dreamlike grandeur, as guitars and bass drift in and out. The track is accompanied by a video directed by Vaj.Power which draws interspersing images of blossoming flowers with the gnarled surfaces of a distant planet.
Sing-a-long anthems are a rarity in Mogwai-land but Ritchie Sacramento would appear to have struck gold. Supported by quietly melodic vocals, Ritchie Sacramento oscillates between moments of tranquillity and disorder and is as close to commercial and radio-friendly as they get. A video for the track was created within the Unreal Games Engine by director Sam Wiehl, who has previously collaborated with Ladytron, Forest Swords and the Valentino fashion house, and created a small first-person multi-level computer game for the song, which then formed the animations and narratives for the video.
“Ritchie Sacramento’s title came from a misunderstanding a friend of ours had about how to say Ryuichi Sakamoto (Japanese composer well known for his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra)”, says Braithwaite. “The lyrics were inspired by a story Bob Nastanovich shared about his friend and (Silver Jews) bandmate David Berman (who died in 2019) who proclaimed “Rise crystal spear” as he threw a shovel at a sports car. The song is dedicated to all the musician friends we’ve lost over the years.”
Drive The Nail builds on the solid rhythm lines of Aitchison and Bulloch while F**k Off Money is a slow interlude driven by Burns’ spaced-out synthesizer. Mogwai have a history of strange song titles from random sources, none more so than Ceiling Granny, a showcase for Braithwaite’s hard-rocking Big Country riff. Atticus Ross brings his synthesizer to the party for the brooding Midnight Flit while Colin Stetson adds some atmospheric clarinet to Pat Stains.
Over the past quarter of a century, Mogwai have become one of the most important groups of a fragmented but increasingly potent British musical underground. They have steadfastly refused to sit back and rest on their laurels, always looking for a new angle and never failing to inspire. There is nothing outrageously flash about As The Love Continues but an understated brilliance the underlines just what a class act Mogwai are.
As they are unable to tour at present, Mogwai will present a special live performance premiere of the album As The Love Continues, to be broadcast worldwide at 8:00 pm GMT, Saturday 13th February 2021. The performance was recorded at Tramway in their home town of Glasgow.
Directed by the band’s long term collaborator Antony Crook, the broadcast will be the first opportunity to hear the new album in full alongside highlights from the band’s formidable back catalogue. Tickets are on sale now and available at from the Mogwai website
01. To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth (5:08)
02. Here We, Here We, Here We Go Forever (4:43)
03. Dry Fantasy (5:07)
04. Ritchie Sacramento (4:11)
05. Drive The Nail (7:12)
06. F**k Off Money (5:52)
07. Ceiling Granny (3:36)
08. Midnight Flit (6:07)
09. Pat Stains (6:54)
10. Supposedly, We Were Nightmares (4:33)
11. It’s What I Want To Do, Mum (7:23)
Total Time – 60:46
Stuart Braithwaite – Guitar, Vocals
Barry Burns – Guitar, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals
Dominic Aitchison – Bass Guitar
Martin Bulloch – Drums
Atticus Ross – Synthesizer (track 8)
Colin Stetson – Clarinet (track 9)
Record Label: Rock Action Records
Country of Origin: Scotland
Date of Release: 19th February 2021