Tim Hecker – Love Streams...

It won’t appeal to all tastes, but Canadian composer Tim Hecker’s ‘Love Streams’ is a strangely beautiful listen.

Mogwai – Atomic...

Prolific Scottish Post Rock innovators Mogwai release their third soundtrack album.

Mogwai – Rave Tapes...

January is traditionally a slow month for new album releases but 2014 looks set to buck that trend with a number of highly anticipated releases scheduled to drop right in the middle of the post Christmas slump. Scottish Post Rock pioneers Mogwai are first up with the follow up to their well received soundtrack for French supernatural chiller Les Revenants. Mogwai are considered by many to be the godfathers of the Post Rock scene – their debut album in 1995 proved to be the blueprint for that genre -lengthy instrumental pieces that quietly built towards punishing crescendos of distorted guitar noise. They spawned a host of imitators as facsimile bands saw an opportunity to tap into the niche but almost religiously zealous fan-base that had latched on to the Post Rock movement. Rave Tapes is their eight studio album (not including soundtrack work) and sees them further distance themselves from the ‘quiet loud’ dynamic that was such a hallmark of their early releases. It is probably closest in spirit to their 2003 album Happy Songs for Happy People with an emphasis on a more textured approach, with electronic elements very much to the fore. That is not to say that guitars have been discarded completely – they still feature heavily throughout, but this is a more restrained effort where the temptation to go for the big finish is never yielded to. Opener ‘Heard About You Last Night’ showcases this more restrained approach; the sky kissing guitars in the chorus offer the tantalising hope that Mogwai are about to reward us with one of their trademark finishes but it never happens. ‘Remurdered’ is built around a fat, distorted electronic bassline that circles in on itself, hypnotic, trance-like. The ghostly remnants of their work on the...

Mono live @The Button Factory 6th December 2012...

Japanese post-rock outfit Mono slipped quietly into town last week for a show that bore all the hallmarks of a secret gig. Very little advance publicity led to a surprisingly low turnout for a band that released one of the very best albums of the last five years. Released in 2009, the superb Hymn to the Immortal Wind still stands as a towering, majestic achievement – terrifying and beautiful in equal measure, with eloquent string-drenched passages giving way to pulverising guitar and drums based climaxes. Early indications are that new album For My Parents continues in the same vein as its illustrious predecessor so it was always going to be interesting to see how Mono distilled the heavily orchestrated and cinematic sound of their most recent two albums down to just a four piece band. As it happened, they managed it pretty impressively – there were plenty of stirring moments of epic grandeur and stunning emotional peaks. Without the full orchestral arrangements that were such an integral part of Hymn to the Immortal Wind, it was left to the dual guitars of Takaakira Goto and Hideki Suematsu to wring as much emotion out of these songs as possible, and they did this as best as could be expected. Like so much post-rock instrumental music, all of the songs start off with sparse, simple guitar motifs, before building and building to the mother of all climaxes – Mono stuck pretty closely to this blueprint, but without the subtle variations provided by the addition of a full orchestra on their recent records, it did sound a little repetitive at times. Opening with the first three numbers from their new album, it took a while for the crowd to warm up – Mono are not a band...

Mono -Hymn To The Immortal Wind...

Japan’s Mono have been at the vanguard of that much maligned genre of music known as Post-Rock over the last decade. Mention Post-Rock to most music fan and images of serious young men playing lengthy instrumental pieces with pretentious song titles immediately spring to mind. Those bands that have aligned themselves with this genre have done much to promote this stereotypical image by largely adhering closely to the Post-Rock manifesto, almost to the point of parody. Which is a shame really, because scratch beneath the surface, and you will find some of the most inspiring and exciting music of the last 10 years emerging from this scene. On this, their 5th studio album, Mono may well have delivered one of the defining records of this genre, and certainly their most accomplished effort to date. Hymn to the Immortal Wind is a towering, majestic achievement – terrifying and beautiful in equal measure, with eloquent string-drenched passages giving way to pulverising guitar and drums based climaxes, a whisper to a scream. Producer Steve Albini  (at the helm for his third Mono album) employs a full orchestra to devastating effect on opener ‘Ashes in the Snow’ and this sets the blueprint for what follows –Mono never stray too far from the mix of epic orchestral strings and soaring post-rock guitars, but when the mix is this heady, who cares? ‘Burial at Sea’ employs a tribal drum beat to steadily build towards its furious climax – guitars and orchestra bleed into one and this is perhaps Albini’s greatest contribution – he never sets out to separate, to tidy things up, recognising the impact of the sound, not its component parts. Track 3, ‘Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn’, offers some respite; a shorter, more restrained Morricone-like effort that leaves the...