iTunes in their infinite Linnaean wisdom defines Mogwai as a “post-rock” band.  This will make today’s entry less a piece of criticism and more a pondering of what “post-rock” is supposed to mean.  “Post” for me has connotations of a clear, wide-reaching difference from what came before (postwar) or a similarity with redefined terms (post-modernism, which is much the same as modernism but with the trope of self-reference added).  But what would the negation of rock ‘n’ roll be?  It has far too many…rock is less formal and elaborate than classical, more energetic and subversive than traditional pop songwriting (Gershwins, Porter, Rodgers and Hart/Hammerstein), and while rooted in traditional styles and encouraging invention does not possess to the same degree the even farther-reaching tradition and special characteristics of improvisation and  departure from concept as jazz.  And of course, as much as I enjoy their music, Barry Manilow and Air Supply are the antitheses of rock.  But all of the above mentioned have been incorporated into rock ‘n’ roll already at various points by various people, up to this day, for rock is nothing if an amorphous and democratic style.  So what is “post-rock” supposed to sound like?

Well, apparently, like very easy to listen to, sometimes pulsing and thrilling pieces of Barry Burns piano and synth backgrounds (the gentle “San Pedro” and “Too Raging to Cheers” see him at the fore)  not out of place in a good epic movie (both for action and quiet, costumed dialogue) set to a technically solid guitar-bass-and-drums combo highlighted by the ringing, anthemic work of Stuart Braithwaite and John Cummings (“George Square Thatcher Death Party,” “Death Rays,” and the opening “White Noise” show them to advantage.  There are occasional vocals, but nothing to distract from the lovely sounds.  It’s like Brian Eno or Philip Glass done with a bit more energy than usual.  That’s Mogwai.  And Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is a really nice album to have playing when you’re doing anything or nothing in particular.

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