Mogwai, A Wrenched Virile Lore

Sharon O'Connell

By Sharon O'Connell

on 11.20.12 in Reviews

All too often, the remix presents like a creative parasite, functioning only to extend the commercial life of a Top 40 single via half dozen iterations in different pairs of hired hands. But the best remixes can be deeply interpretive — a post-everything construct with its own elastic aesthetic and a life independent of the original track.

10 personalities, 10 targets squarely hit

Mogwai have long been inventive remixers, putting the disparate likes of Apparat, Bloc Party and Rammstein through their bracing quasi-classical/ambient electronica/post-rock rinse cycle; they’ve even got a reshaping of The Cure’s stark 1981 album Faith in the pipeline. They’ve been equally enthusiastic about handing over their material to others, most notably to My Bloody Valentine and µ-Ziq, among others on their 1998 LP Kicking A Dead Pig. Now, they’ve unlatched the gate on 2011′s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

With their characteristic deep layering and open spaces, these eight (mostly) instrumentals provide plenty of opportunity for individualism to stretch out. Given his industrio-metal CV, Justin K Broadrick’s touch on opener “George Square Thatcher Death Party” is surprisingly light, replacing the original’s rockist wallop with a sweet, melodic wooziness. Others play more to type: Tim Hecker’s take on “Rano Pano” opts for a lush field of phased electronics instead of Mogwai’s blizzard-like distortion; labelmate Umberto turns “Too Raging To Cheers” into a shimmering, retro-futurist synth excursion; and Zombi’s groovy reimagining of “Letters To The Metro” suggests Kraftwerk tackling the theme from “The Exorcist.”

None of which would be possible without the innate flexibility of Mogwai’s originals. “For me,” Stuart Braithwaite has said, “a successful remix is simply one where the remixer imposes their own personality on their version of the song.” Ten personalities, 10 targets squarely hit.