The cosmic post-rock band Mogwai was formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996 by guitarist/vocalist Stuart Braithwaite, guitarist Dominic Aitchison, and drummer Martin Bulloch, longtime friends with the goal of creating “serious guitar music.” Toward that end, they added another guitarist, John Cummings, before debuting in March 1996 with the single “Tuner,” a rarity in the Mogwai discography for its prominent vocals; the follow-up, a split single with Dweeb titled “Angels vs. Aliens,” landed in the Top Ten on the British indie charts. Following appearances on a series of compilations, Mogwai returned later in the year with the 7″ “Summer,” and after another early 1997 single, “New Paths to Helicon,” they issued Ten Rapid, a collection of their earliest material.
Around the time that Mogwai recorded the superb 1997 EP 4 Satin, former Teenage Fanclub and Telstar Ponies member Brendan O’Hare joined the lineup in time for the recording of Mogwai’s debut studio LP, Mogwai Young Team. He exited a short time later — returning to his primary projects Macrocosmica and Fiend — to be replaced by Barry Burns. Mogwai next issued 1998’s Kicking a Dead Pig, a two-disc remix collection; the No Education = No Future (Fuck the Curfew) EP appeared a few months later. In 1999, they released Come on Die Young. Rock Action arrived in early 2001. Late that year, Mogwai released the My Father, My King EP; two years later, they issued the ironically titled Happy Songs for Happy People. Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2004 arrived early in 2005.
Mr. Beast, which was released in 2006, found the band going in a softer, more reflective direction. Late that year, the band’s collaboration with Clint Mansell on the soundtrack to The Fountain arrived; Mogwai also crafted the score for Douglas Gordon’s Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which was released in the U.K. in 2006 and in the U.S. the following spring. The Batcat EP, which featured a collaboration with garage-psych legend Roky Erickson, arrived in late summer 2008, heralding the release of The Hawk Is Howling — which reunited the band with producer Andy Miller for the first time in a decade — that fall. In 2010, Mogwai released their first live album, Special Moves, as a package with the Vincent Moon-directed concert film Burning.
For 2011’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the band reunited with Young Team producer Paul Savage for a more streamlined set of songs. Later that year, they followed up with an EP of unreleased material from the Hardcore sessions, Earth Division, released on Sub Pop. Late in 2012, the band issued A Wrenched Virile Lore, a collection of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will remixes. Early the following year, the first taste of their score to the French zombie TV series Les Revenants (which was based on the 2004 film of the same name) arrived as a four-song EP; in February 2013, the full-length album appeared. Mogwai filled the rest of the year with recording their eighth proper album, Rave Tapes, at their Castle of Doom studio, live performances of their Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait score in Glasgow, Manchester, and London, and other live performances. Rave Tapes, which boasted a more streamlined and electronic direction than Mogwai’s recent albums, was released in early 2014. Late that year, the band issued the Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1 EP, a collection of Rave Tapes remixes as well as new songs. Cummings left the band in 2015 to work on his own solo projects. Mogwai’s first release after his departure was 2016’s Atomic, a collection of reworked tracks from their music for Mark Cousins’ BBC 4 documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise. Later that year, Mogwai, along with Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Gustavo Santaolalla, contributed music to Fisher Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change documentary Before the Flood. For their first album without Cummings, 2017’s Every Country’s Sun, the band reunited with Rock Action producer David Fridmann and balanced the electronic leanings of their 2010s output with the heavier sounds of their work in the ’90s and 2000s.
As usual, the new album, As the Love Continues, is a record of very few words and it’s up to you to find the meaning you want from it. The first thing you hear is “To the bin my friend, tonight we vacate Earth”. Its source is a surreptitious recording of sleep talking friend, fellow musician Benjamin John Powers of Blanck Mass. Stuart sees this stolen moment of unconscious storytelling as “a Peter Cook sci fi fantasy”, but there is no prog epic story to tell after this, this is no follow up to Godley and Creme’s Consequences which really was a Peter Cook rock sci fi fantasy.
Mogwai are a band of no significant meaning. Don’t take that the wrong way. They are a significant band, but a band without an agenda beyond the music itself. Barry describes their work as “the repressed Calvinist approach to making music, we are just a bunch of boys playing music in a room. We never talk about meaning.”