In the elephantine arena of songs, post-rock, among other genres of music, has yet to find a sturdy ground in the mainstream scene. Part of it has to do with the peculiarity of the genre itself, which is mostly comprised of songs that aren’t flamboyant and tempting like the commercial pop songs.
While the music industry is vastly dominated by short radio-fitting songs, the post-rock genre accommodates rather reserved, relatable, and intimate thoughts and emotions that the younger listeners are being enthralled by. This article presents 5 songs from the Scottish rock band Mogwai that will get you lured into the genre.
I Know You Are, But What Am I?
This instrumental beauty carries with itself the burden of existential dilemma and dejections. The song starts with a subtle slow piano with a single-stroke groove at the intro and starts to spread with the sounds of the music box and nonchalant drums, rolling in and fitting in seamlessly with the melody.
Structured by sad-sounding chord progressions, the thread of drowning melancholia is piggybacked throughout the song. The haunting feeling of having no clue about the whereabouts of one’s conscience cuts through without a hitch as the song emulates a feeling of loneliness that many people can relate to.
Especially in recent times when people are getting even farther away from down-home relationships with other people, the indulgence in the fabricated digital world is making these human-to-human connections even shallower. I Know You Are, But What Am I has a direct bearing on the present day and age more than ever.
Take Me Somewhere Nice
The low pitched- almost baritone-sounding guitars, shlepped along with fuzzy and distorted guitars far back in the mix translate into a languishing setup of tones, which is in a way mellow but not penetratingly dark.
The occasional fuzzy distorted guitars almost appear to be few and far between, projecting a more intricate agony that we refrain from coming to terms with. With the low-sounding guitar being captivating as it, the mellifluous strings steal the spotlight in this one by adding a great deal of density and coloring to the ongoing groove.
Admitting that the combination of multiple instruments provides a certain richness to the sound, the string melody in the middle of the verses takes over with a totally different feel to them, even more so than the vocals, which are usually the focal lines in a song. Different from that of an upbeat pop song, the guitars in Take Me Somewhere Nice with multiple octaves shape into a rather flat harmonization.
Acting as a mirror to the times when we’re trying to figure out our relevance in the present time, the seven-minute piece reflects upon our insecurities and escapes- a comfortable place to be, if you may say so. Memories of the past, burdened with disorders, and the future, which is nothing more than a projection of the past, by seeking a different place to be, is a paradox sprouting from the residue of experiences. Take Me Somewhere Nice fits perfectly well in this context.
Danphe and the Brain
Unlike the above songs, Danphe and the Brain create dissonances on two levels- one being the rhythm and the other being the melody. For the rhythm part, the dissonance comes from the bassline. On the other hand, for the melody, this job is done by a single transitioning note played in the guitar towards the middle of the song.
The spooky bass gives off at first a gloomier vibe, widely affecting the perception of the groove, only to modulate into an uplifting progression, more or less like a yin yang. This mixed contour of tones gives more character to the song sparing it from monotonous repetition.
Danphe and the Brain puts a shine on the richness and the experimental songwriting approach of the post-rock genre by playing around with varying themes at different timestamps.
The song incorporates subtle elements like volume changes in the drums, along with a melody that will keep you on the edge, which together makes it a worthy dive into a new taste and ways to make music.
May nothing but happiness come through your door
With a slow start and recurring melody, the song instantly gives the cue to the style of Godspeed you! Black Emperor, an acclaimed post-rock band in its own right. On the flip side, unlike Godspeed, who tend to take a darker turn in their orchestration, Mogwai hovers around both dark and bright sounding progressions, hinting at their customary instinct for going after more soothing harmonies.
Notwithstanding that the song starts on a gloomier note, it flowers into an impression of coming into the light from the clutches of darkness. Not each therapeutic song has to be cathartic, some can be symbolic of a gentle surrender. May nothing but happiness come through your door gives off the vibe of the latter one.
It’s interesting, how despite the melody being the same, the articulation of drums at different volumes contributes to having more than one expression for that musical event.
In summation, you can delve deep into the marvelous world of post-rock and learn what it’s all about, starting with Mogwai.