Mogwai – Atomic OST – Album Review by Killian Laher
Mogwai’s eleventh album, and third full soundtrack is their most electronic to date. A soundtrack to the Mark Cousins movie Atomic about the fallout from the atom bomb, this change didn’t come out of the blue, electronic elements have been creeping into their albums as far back as their soundtrack for Les Revenants in 2013. It does feel very different at first to the brain-crushing Mogwai of old, nowhere more so than on optimistic sounding opener Ether. However when you listen closer, the track is very much in the Mogwai mould, building gradually in the manner of many of their older tracks. Scram would suggest the band have been listening to Boards of Canada, with pulsating keyboards and a slow, dynamic beat central to the mix on a track that feels like major progression for Mogwai, a soaring electronic piece which evokes new influences.
With guitars for the most part remaining very much in the background, Bitterness Centrifuge and Pripyat have a massive, foreboding feel to them like the sound of an enormous nuclear reactor. U-235 on the other hand will appeal to anyone keen on Mogwai’s recent poppy direction (for them!) such as Remurdered (off 2014’s Rave Tapes). For those who prefer Mogwai in treading water mode (relatively speaking), Little Boy and Are You A Dancer? will appeal here, with genuinely audible guitars. These tracks sound more recognisably Mogwai without sounding like any of the older tracks in particular, indeed they sound like very good Mogwai. Penultimate track Tzar even features old school build-and-blast dynamics often favoured by Mogwai before the album ends with the eerie keyboards and pounding drums of Fat Man.
Mogwai have become a sort of career band, ploughing their own furrow, often imitated but seldom equalled. They have yet to release a bad album, yet perhaps have never released a truly standout classic album. Instead they release one consistent album after another, and Atomic is every bit as consistent as any of their recent albums.
3. Bitterness Centrifuge
6. Weak Force
7. Little Boy
8. Are You A Dancer?
10. Fat Man