Mogwai - A Wrenched Virile Lore

The very nature of remix albums means they are rarely cohesive as a collective whole.

Mogwai’s 2011 studio album ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’ was, by their standards a tamer, more thoughtful piece of work compared to its predecessor, 2008’s sprawling behemoth ‘The Hawk Is Howling’. With gentle nods to 80s krautrock, it was further proof that the band were happy to pull themselves into shapes and forms that would further distance themselves from their more digestible, albeit predictable, post-rock guise found in earlier albums.

So it is hardly surprising that a remix album of said seventh long player would surface barely a year later to continue this trend of creative restlessness.

The results however are decidedly mixed. The most rewarding tracks here are those that have chosen to radicalise the originals to near unrecognisable forms. ‘Rano Piano’ is given a new lease of life, parading itself as a twitchy high-octane piece of electronica, whilst ‘San Pedro’, easily the most raucous of the source material, has been smoothed out and given a sleeker, less menacing sheen. Whereas once its striking guitar attacks were one of the most rewarding moments of ‘Hardcore Will Never Die…’, this incarnation of fuzzed out guitars and electric-fizz gives it a new, if slightly less satisfying slant.

Most enjoyable of all however is RM Hubbert’s reworking of ‘Mexican Grand Prix’. Stripping the track of its synth-heavy roots, and replacing those components with a predominantly acoustic take on the song has given ‘A Wrenched Virile Lore’ a surprising warmth in an otherwise steely cold collection of mostly functional reworkings.

The very nature of remix albums means they are rarely cohesive as a collective whole, the cohort of collaborators here so far-flung and disparate from one another that the album rarely flows, even less so if you’re unfamiliar with the original album. The disco attack, of ‘Letters To The Metro’ is a forgotten soundtrack to a paranoid movie from the 1980s, its sledgehammer beats more akin to the early works of Nine Inch Nails than latter day Mogwai.

In fact, there is a strong 80s feel throughout ‘A Wrenched Virile Lore’, taking the original’s krautrock influences and pushing it to extremes. ‘Too Raging To Cheers’ is all keyboards and does little else to the original aside from dragging it out, a point that many of the reworkings on offer here are guilty of as well. A more succinct approach to these re-assembled works would have done wonders, though as it stands leaves these ten tracks merely as a curiosity for long-standing Mogwai fans only.

Tags: Mogwai, Reviews, Album Reviews

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