Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top 10 albums of 2010

5 Mogwai – Special Moves

'How're you doing? We're Mogwai from Glasgow, Scotland.
It's nice to be here.'

So starts eleven minutes forty-three seconds of the most glorious racket I guarantee you will hear for a long time. They sound so polite in the introduction: like a shy schoolboy chatting to his grandmother's best friend. Just you wait though. The build-up takes about five minutes during which they gradually get into a ferocious groove of drums and bass, with shards of guitar slashing and spinning over the top. Gradually fading back down again until you are left with the most delicate drum beat, a tiny throb of bass and the most exquisite wisps of guitar. About three and a half minutes later you are just adjusting the volume, so that you can catch all the subtleties, when everything explodes back into action destroying your speakers and necessitating a change of underwear. I can't count how many times I've listened to Mogwai Fear Satan, but it has caught me out every single bleeding time. And I still love it.

This is the fourth track into a recording made in Brooklyn (hence the Glasgow, Scotland) in April 2009. With some understated thank-yous they slip into a stunningly beautiful version of Cody, the only song with recognisable vocals in the whole concert, which feels a million times more exceptional because of the scouring and pummelling you've just been through. Imagine what the audience felt like ...

They build things up with the next three tracks, but not quite to the same levels as before, and then confound expectations with a surprisingly lovely version of 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong. The only other words from the stage – thanks for coming – and straight into the last two songs. Like Herod ends with a blizzard of feedback that makes you think it has to be the last song, but in fact resolves itself into a frantic and positively snappy Glasgow Megasnake which then ends as if lightning has just blown out the electrics. Special moves all right ...

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