Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
on 6 August 2013
I had no previous acquaintance with the work of Mogwai before I began watching "Les Revenants" on Channel 4 this summer. Their music absolutely made the story come alive (if that's not an inappropriate word) for me. It has haunted me now for two months. Since acquiring the CD I have been listening to it in the car on my commute to work and, frankly, it is affecting my perception of the world. (I write this in the aftermath of two recent significant bereavements.) This is spare and austere music in keeping with its solemn subject. The elements are simple. Repetitive motives suggest obsessive behaviour, e.g. of persistent grief as well as Serge's pathological actions as a serial killer. Distortion and feedback have the effect of fingernails on a chalk-board. Use of intervals such as compound augmented fourths (the infamous "diabola in musica") heighten the sense of encroaching anxiety. The cumulative effect is devastating - for example, on the first track, in which the glockenspiel suggests the vulnerability of "Victor" (his real name, we eventually discover, is Louis) and Camille, the two children among the "returned"; the lyrical 'cello speaks of the sadness of the bereaved, whilst the insistent drumming suggests the anger, bewilderment and frustration both of the untimely dead and those who mourn them.
The (presumably) ironic inclusion of a version of the early 20th Century free-church hymn "What are they doing in Heaven today?" poignantly highlights the dilemma faced by all the characters, living and dead, at the end of the first series, as the returned have patently not been existing in any kind of beatific afterlife during their absence - much as the bereaved people who miss them might have wished they had been - and its inclusion makes the double-suicide of the Koretzkys even more painful, even though this track was not included in the TV series (as far as I can remember).