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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 September 2008
Someone clearly a whole lot smarter than me once wrote that music, at its best, is "...a polite reminder of the limitations of language". A beautiful phrase, which stuck with me.

At their magnificent best, Mogwai have brought that polite (a less than apt word in the context of Mogwai's music, I grant you) reminder to mind many times since "Young Team" offered an exciting alternative to the dying embers of Britpop 11 years ago. That and every subsequent release have been studded with moments that have enough power and beauty to leave listeners awestruck.

What makes "The Hawk is Howling" Mogwai's most satisfying recording to-date is that over its 63 minutes or so, the feeling of awe it generates refuses to leave you. There are simply no tracks here destined for the skip button on future listens. The opening track, "I'm Jim Morrisson, I'm Dead", devastates with it's sheer momentum and from there on, through a number of fluctuating moods, the album takes you on a journey you'll want to repeat many, many times.

By the time the truly majestic wash of "Scotland's Shame", the eighth track here, was enveloping me, all thoughts of resistance were futile and Mogwai seemed like the only band who ever mattered. They aren't of course, in as much as nobody is, but it can certainly feel that way at times.

Others, i.e. Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed... have offered great work in the time since Slint's "Spiderland". However, Mogwai have always displayed a real understanding of how to get to the point economically and how to use melody to generate real emotion. These ten pieces synthesise all they have learned and that alone should be recommendation enough. I know I'll be revisiting this beautiful album for the rest of my life.
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on 12 November 2008
I hadn't heard any Mogwai before. Listened to this album on their myspace page and really liked. Sometimes happy but mostly moody soundtracks to films never made but probably should have been. I can imagine Shane Meadows making a film with a Mogwai soundtrack.
A bit of Sonic Youth, a bit of shoegazing, a bit of Pink Floyd, it even reminds me a bit of some Pat Metheny stuff. Whatever it is it's worth listening too. Buy without hesitation if you like proper grown up sounds.
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on 10 February 2014
I've all Mogwai's albums (with the exception of Hardcore), and Mr Beast and Hawk is Howling are my favourites (maybe that doesn't make me a "true" Mogwai fan). Don't know why exactly, but they complement each other and I often listen to them back-to-back. I read a review somewhere that described Mr Beast as "shimmering beauty" and I couldn't agree more - it is sublime. Hawk is Howling has the same atmosphere, but does tail off (excuse the pun) towards the end with a couple of filler tracks, but despite that is somehow a fuller listening experience than Mr Beast.
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on 16 September 2008
I recently recieved a promo copy of this cd and I have to tell you its fantastic. The songs are slightly longer and darker than that of the 'mr beast' album (by no means a bad album, but to these ears, mogwais weakest to date).
This album manages to be both what you'd expect, yet at the same time still has teh ability to suprise:
Dark, haunting opener 'Im jim morrison, im dead' is built around teh time honoured build/repition theme with a maudlin piano thrown in, 'batcat' is scuzzy and dirgy while 'daphne and the brain' is short and full of brilliant electro flecks (that do indeed pepper parts of teh album to great affect)
the real stand out tracks for me though are the melancholic post rock of 'scotland's shame' which builds nicely, like an instrumental A PERFECT CIRLCE song I suppose, with good use of wah guitar towards the end for tension....and 'The sun smells too loud' which is now my fave mogwai song. it starts with a sequenced synth bass and electro percussion straight from the 80s and then just goes straight into the stratosphere!
It's bizarely up lifting/uptempo for mogwai, you can even dance to it! Its also got some lovely repeating guitar lines.
Go buy!!!!
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on 12 October 2008
as a fan of mogwai for years now i always anticipate their albums release. although the cover scares me alot i still had no hesitation in buying it. this album, simply, is the best mogwai release, it is perfect in every single way. every single track on this album is fantastic, as another reviewer said there is no track that you would want to skip. im jim morrison, im dead goes on par with killing all the flies as my favorite mogwai song of all time, and there are other songs on this album that near the top of that list.

each song is a masterpiece in composition, phrasing and execution and each song delivers beautiful moments. sometimes in the past i have been put off by some of the heavier moments in mogwai songs, but they have honed the balance between the heavy parts and the softer.

this album has rejuvenated my love for mogwai that went a tiny bit stale after mr beast. any new mogwai fans might as well start here and any old mogwai fans unsure should not even hestitate at this purchase.
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Now on their 6th album, the world has changed around Mogwai, yet Mogwai have remained resolute, evolving but unchanging : the mainstream has come to them - of a sort - through the appropriation of a similar style of music from other acts : bands that concentrate on moving away from the convention of melody and chorus/verse/solo to producing a music that operates in a different sphere of evocative, occasionally minimalist riffing. Mogwai, as an ethos, align themselves to a punk rock ethic of following your own muse, going where you want. Musically, "The Hawk is Howling" could best be described as a jazz metal drone LP. (Not a CD or a download, an LP, an old fashioned 33rpm vinyl disc that took up too much space when you had thousands of them.)

Face it, crazy it as it sounds, I actually have a music room. A whole room in my house made of CD's and LP's and cassette tapes. That's how ace music is. It's better than anything.

Anyway, "The Hawk is Howling" is a giant from these fiercely individual innovators. Production values have gone up - the songs sound slicker and wider than ever, but the songs themselves are still uncompromised. As long as you don't mention the words S**** R** or P*** R***, you should be OK. Mogwai really have very little to do with any of those words, except that their music is largely instrumental. They're out there, maybe on their own, maybe not, navigating some unusual path of their own, and they don't give a monkeys what you or anyone else think.

Follow the herd if you want, or be your own herd.

After a couple of years working on well-paying and relatively quick movie soundtracks, Mogwai return - though they never went away - with an album of effortless style. For starters, if nothing else, any band that produces songs called "Batcat" and "I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School" demonstrates a certain imagination miles beyond any band that has a song called say ""Baby Don't Go". Unless it's called "Baby Don't Go Unless You Want To Wake Up To Find I've Destroyed Your Town And The Horse You Rode In On". Maybe. Because revenge is the best revenge.

You will never hear a Mogwai song coming from a mobile phone or a tinny car stereo. Mogwai fans have too much taste for that kind of rubbish.

Songs here are dense instrumentals - where the stuff not played is as important as what is - designed to transport the listener to somewhere else : in effect, this material allows the listener to project anything they want into it, both being meaningful and meaningless. If you want to imagine, say, the last 30 seconds of any Black Sabbath song played at 11rpm, shorn of vocals, and well, that's most of the album : heavy, but light. Whoa. "The Sun Smells Too Loud" is something new for Mogwai : it's almost cheerful ; an upbeat 7 minute meditation on a handful of musical motifs that sound like a perverse holiday jingle.

The album hits a mid pace dip - think, if you will, of the inevitable point in any movie where someone has to draw a graph and explain exactly whats going on, if you've seen Back To The Future II - but aside from that, it's a mere moment of calm before a storm. The final three songs on the album work abck to a gentle fury that blows itself out. So, "The Hawk Is Howling" comes to a close and Mogwai disappear off into the distance, a golden sunset with Indiana Jones and James Bond and Dan Ackroyd's butler. But is the album any good?

Hmm. Yes. Glorious, instrumental landscapes that allow you to project whatever your imagination desires upon it in a maelstrom of uncompromising, evocative music. Set your flux capacitators to stun.
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on 15 March 2014
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on 7 October 2010
This 2008 album from Mogwai sees them sticking faithfully to their formula rather than breaking new ground. But what a formula. The brooding opener I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead is another classic Mogwai opener, in the vein of Auto Rock, Hunted by a Freak etc. Though in common with a lot of this album it's longer and more drawn out than most of Mr. Beast at nearly 7 minutes. Track 2 is the requisite heavy track, Batcat, which is bludgeoning heavy metal, with insistent sledgehammer guitar riffs.

The album continues to follow the same pattern as Mr Beast with Danphe and the Brain, one of many lumbering giants on this album, and it, like the others lumber along pleasantly for the most part, with occasional distortion. This one in particular reminds me of the Cure circa Faith / Carnage Visors, though without Robert Smith obviously as the entire album is instrumental.

There is one track on this album which has no precursors, The Sun Smells Too Loud, which is a bright, poppy tune with a strident beat. Not really sure about it to be honest, hope it's just an experiment rather than a new direction.

In general though this is another strong album from Mogwai, though not a great one in comparison with previous work.
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on 10 February 2012
I have to admit I was left feeling a tad uninspired after hearing leaked versions of `Batcat' and the horrible `Sun Smells To Loud' and I feared Mogwai were going to be another Sigur Ros for 2008. But both tracks turned out to be filler, while the rest of the record is undeniably killer. All the hallmarks of previous records are still present, but the mighty `Gwai seem on top of their game right now.
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on 15 March 2012
Not so much slowly slowly then crashy and fast as previous Mogwai albums but its no worse off for that!
I found the whole album goes together quite nicely with none of the songs sounding out of place. Otherwise, if you like Mogwai for the fact they make good music (whether it is loud and fast or slow and quiet) then I think you'll like this record as there is a good mix of both :-D
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