16 June 2008

Mogwai - 'Young Team' reissue

In the main, I manage to resist reissues. Of course, I’m a Fall fan, so the house is cluttered with their repeat offerings of the same LP. We’re talking three figures by now. My view is everyone’s allowed one act where they buy all the reissues, lives, bootlegs and pretty much any pointless everything, and mine is The Fall. It could be worse. Some people do it with Bob Dylan. But boy, the CDs just pile up. Recently, when returning from holiday, I opened the door to find it jamming against shiny discs strewn across the front room. At first the inevitable burglary was feared, but then the pleasantly mundane reality of it became clear: there’d been a CD collapse. Piles of them, and piles upon piles, were stacked precariously on speakers, and on top of bulgingly full racks. The faintest breath of wind would have been enough. Probably somebody slammed a door in a neighbouring house. Even now they sit higgledy-piggledy towered upon the floor awaiting the imposition of some kind of order.

Anyway, I don’t do reissues, but this one was always something special. There are times when Mogwai are the most important band in my life, and it’s still their t-shirt I wear probably more times than I should. I do have other clothes, I’m just proud of them. Ten years on, it would be hard to explain the impact of this record to some post-rock neophyte. There have been so many subsequent copyists that it’s difficult to get across how different, how shocking this music was. Of course they weren’t the first to do it, just the first to get it right. It redefined the rules. Most of the songs didn’t have lyrics. They were as long as they cared to be. They had very quiet and shockingly loud bits, or sometimes just quiet bits. It’s art stuff, but it’s rock.

But hearing it now I curse my cloth-eared 20-something self. I was then yet labouring with a mostly ideological misconception that all music should be three minute pop songs. Oh sure, I liked it enough, on then-novel double vinyl, but still it feels I missed a trick. Now, in an evidently louder and clearer edition, it seems it should have been life-changing. Meanwhile, all the other CDs pile up, inessential, and for this last week I barely listened to anything else. All other offerings sound flat. I only need this more.

This is an epic, infinite affair. I found it seizing on different emotional states and amplifying them. The twin peaks, Like Herod and Mogwai Fear Satan, had me strolling euphoric in sunshine one day, noticing leaves on trees like these were new things. The next day, they had me sobbing. And it’s really hard not to do this without talking about the sounds of stars dying or planets imploding. This is end of the world music. It turns everything into a scene from a film. It's your personal epic soundtrack.

About halfway through the week, I realised this is what I want to be listening to on my headphones as I leave this life. Of course, I hope that isn’t for a long time yet, but I can’t imagine a better soundtrack to go out to. If I time it right, the last notes of Fear Satan would be the final thing I hear on earth. I want this noted by the relevant authorities, and am prepared to carry a card to this effect.

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