Earlier this year, Mogwai released their eighth album and then reissued their second one, and listening to both in tandem, one could reasonably conclude that the Scottish art-rock quintet have either evolved considerably over the past 15 years or not at all. Sure, Mogwai songs are no longer the ticking time-bombs they once were; now as reliant on sci-fi synths as nuclear guitar blasts, their once forbidding 10-minute-plus epics have been pared down to more digestible, pop-friendly forms. But on an album-to-album basis, that change has been so incremental, it can seem like Mogwai have stagnated. While the sneak-attack tactics of old have been replaced with more carefully orchestrated ascents, their music has nonetheless retained the slow-roiling tension and uneasy atmosphere that defined the band’s early efforts.
In lieu of rewriting their formula, Mogwai have instead opted to outsource any radical reinvention to producer friends who don’t so much provide them with remixes as wholesale rethinks. After subjecting their 2011 release, Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will, to a nigh-unrecognizable full-album overhaul, the stop-gap Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1. EP presents a more modestly scaled counterpart to this year’s Rave Tapes, complementing remixes of three album tracks with a trio of new songs. Collectively, the EP has a little bit of something for every type of Mogwai fan: those who just want them to stick to the same-ol’-same-ol’, those who want to see them steer their sound into new directions, and those who’d prefer they dismantle it completely.
EPs have traditionally been the format where Mogwai showcased their more pensive material, so it’s a wonderful shock that Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1. leads with the purest, catchiest vocal track the band has ever attempted. Picking up on the motorik momentum first introduced on Hardcore’s “Mexican Grand Prix”, the glimmering dream-pop anthem “Teenage Exorcists” feels very much like a conjuring of Mogwai’s own adolescence, applying My Bloody Valentine’s beautiful blur to Stuart Braithwaite’s dancefloor confession. But while it’d be intriguing at this point to hear Mogwai attempt a whole album in this mode, the EP proves there are limits to their student-disco aspirations: the promisingly titled “HMP Shaun Ryder” proves to be a textbook Mogwai move from ominous, vibraphoned lurch to ape-shit guitarmageddon onslaught, meaning we’ll have to wait just a bit longer for the band to embark upon its baggy phase. (And, alas, “History” offers more of the same, albeit in more pastoral, less dramatic fashion.)
But rather than feel tacked-on incongruities, the three Rave Tapes remixes found on the EP’s second half provide a welcome, unpredictably outré counterpoint to the linear songs heard on the first. In the hands of Blanck Mass—a.k.a. Fuck Buttons co-founder Benjamin John Power—the Italo-prog excursion “Remurdered” is reborn as “Re-Remurdered”, which deploys the original’s synth line not as a melodic motif, but as the rhythmic foundation for its convulsive electro-funk. And tellingly, the other two remixes tackle Rave Tapes’ two meditative closing tracks in sequence, as if Mogwai were admitting that the album’s anti-climactic comedown was in need of a do-over. True to his hauntological m.o., enigmatic producer Pye Corner Audio recasts the oscillating refrain of “No Medicine for Regret” in a ghostly, post-apocalyptic fog, but uses it as the springboard into a light-headed acid-house odyssey, while German composer Nils Frahm reduces the vocoderized ballad “The Lord Is Out of Control” to a gorgeously spare piano melody, before introducing a skyward surge that channels the angelic grace of vintage Sigur Rós. All told, the final score for Music Industry 3. Fitness 1.: Remixers 3 Mogwai 1.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1pEJDsE