Special Moves CD+DVD, PAL
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It’s mildly surprising to realise that Special Moves is the first live album Mogwai have released in their 14-year lifespan, discounting radio session collection Government Commissions. Certainly, much of the reputation they garnered back in the late 90s, when they were a youthful squad of Glaswegian miscreants, was based on their live performances, and people’s hyperbolic reports thereafter. What they lacked in spectacle and overt charisma (they’re not a band given to a flamboyant stage show, and most of their songs are instrumental) was more than made up for by their tendency to be incredibly loud; there were tales of spectators literally bleeding from their ears. In more recent years, the musical dynamic that many associated with them – the quiet, delicate build-up usurped by a sudden explosion of metallic chaos – has often been set aside, perhaps due to a fear of becoming formulaic. Nevertheless, it’s very much a part of Special Moves, which was recorded over three dates in Brooklyn last year.
Tracks from Mogwai’s more recent releases – for example, this album’s winningly-titled opener I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead – boast a more textured palette and, if you will, maturity than their earlier output. Guitarist Stuart Braithwaite has certainly outstripped the generic post-rock style he helped to inspire, and does justice to some of his more direct influences – My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields and Robert Smith from The Cure, to name two. Extraneous touches, such as the occasional keyboard parts contributed by Barry Burns and the electronica-style glitches threaded through 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong, also ensure that Special Moves is a varied 75 minutes.
For all that, though, it’s the two oldest songs on the recording that provide the purest endorphin rush. Mogwai Fear Satan and Like Herod, both from their 1997 debut album Young Team, have the ability to make you jump from your skin, as if they’d sneaked up behind you and burst a balloon. Yet, as Mogwai’s popularity across three separate decades suggests, there’s a lot of mileage in their cheerful sadism. Packaged with the band’s first live album is Burning, their first DVD: eight tracks from the same trio of shows, filmed in artful monochrome.--Noel Gardner
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Top customer reviews
Nevertheless Mogwai have built up a solid back catalogue and a lot of it is displayed herein. The included DVD is a record of the concert - and is a tad arty farty to be honest but this is what they do, moody exciting music that reaches across artistic boundaries. I mean the Zidane thing was just so crazy it really worked, but in many ways this album is a conventional live "best of" given the added twist of having been filmed and presented in this way. No real surprises then, this is one for the fans.
There's a spread of material here from all their albums. The quality of the recording is very good, you can hear every scrape of guitar string even amidst the inevitable onslaught that comes in many of their songs. If anything, some of the tracks are even more embellished, I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead in particular benefits from additional keyboards. Later, Hunted By A Freak emerges as one of the strongest of the bunch. The roar of appreciation when it's off kilter guitar picking starts up is quite something to behold for an instrumental!
The track Cody contains some slightly thin vocals from Stuart Braithwaite and is a little jarring. The other tracks draw from all Mogwai's repertoire of talent, the slow-builders (Friend of the Night, I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School), the elephant-on-the-loose (Glasgow Megasnake), and the epic mindblower (Like Herod). For this last one especially it's well worth watching the `Burning' DVD (tastefully shot by Vincent Moon). When the sudden guitar assault comes mid-song the camera is on the crowd. You can feel their exhilaration as they simply scream and roar with a combination of fear and elation, which sums up Mogwai's live experience.
So is this a big drawback? Not really because this is extremely well recorded, drawing out the intricacies and delicate melodies in Mogwai's music that lie beneath the wall of sound, something that you don't always pick up when you see them play live. What you get then on the CD, if less so on the DVD, is a very intimate recording of a very ferocious live band. So what you lose on one hand, you gain on the other in what is a very valuable and interesting album. The quality of the DVD recording is not as good as the CD but has a stronger tracklist.
Definitely an album to be highly recommnded.
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Most recent customer reviews
dont know what the dvd is like because it a gift hope its better than it looks
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