The Scottish post-rockers in Mogwai have built a career that’s spanned over fifteen years, standing firm as the UK’s sonic landscape oscillates from guitars to synths and back again. It’s not a mad thought to call them the most influential band of their kind. Their legacy can be felt all over, from the abstract stylings of Sigur Ros to the prose of crime writer Ian Rankin, who credits Mogwai’s discography as the primary soundtrack to his writing process.
Their success began humbly. High school friends Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison, and Martin Bulloch founded the group in relative obscurity, and their original vision remains constant as it evolves. They emerged from mid-90s Glasgow amidst a musical climate struggling to define itself against the recent US grunge invasion. Pushing against the newly ubiquitous Seattle sound, Mogwai culled influence from earlier post-rockers like Slint and Sonic Youth. The band debuted in 97 with Young Team, a record that offers an uncompromising blueprint in a raw form. Towering sheets of blown-out guitars propel the ten largely instrumental tracks from hushed calm to pockets of sparse feedback, welcome after such an assault.
Mogwai has stayed prolific, and their relevance has been repeatedly confirmed by high profile collaborations. Recently they’ve teamed with composer Clint Mansell and Roky Erickson, founder of the 13th Floor Elevators. Meanwhile, the live shows never pull any punches, swinging radical extremes of mood into one long, feverish onslaught.