I felt so bad for not listening to my new Mogwai CD until now (sounds like a story!), that I decided to write a ‘Song of the Day‘ post specially dedicated to them to make amends. This song is actually one of my favorites from their album ‘Mr. Beast‘ which I’ve had for quite a while – and which I highly recommend. It’s completely instrumental, as is most of their material. They have a pretty unique sound, blending traditional rock instruments with electronic bleeps and bloops. They also use a lot of piano – and if you’ve read any of my previous posts you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I love piano!
This song is interesting because it has two distinct halves (though the same chorus is used for both, to great effect). It’s also a wonderful example of the Mogwai technique of layering waves of music on top of each other to somehow create a coherent whole. Mogwai is a band which rarely provides “easy listening” material; but when you’re in the mood, they can straddle the line between beautiful and challenging perfectly. They’re “a thinking man’s band”… with an edge.
If you’re liking what you’ve read/heard so far then I would also recommend the song ‘I Love You, I’m Going to Blow up Your School’ from their more recent album ‘The Hawk is Howling‘. They’re… intriguing titles to say the least. The first few minutes of this song are darkly peaceful… and then it explodes into a cacophonous guitar solo!! It’s a powerful showcase of the two ends of the Mogwai spectrum, and the brooding tension that their songs hold.
(I found this version of the song while searching on YouTube, where the actual album version does not seem to exist! This seems to be a home video of Billy Corgan playing this song with some improvisation on his piano. The album part of the song begins at around the two minute mark. Billy is wearing a Christmas jumper in this so I thought it was rather appropriate for the time of year!)
(This is a cover I found that involves significantly less banging of the piano 😛 It’s pretty much identical to the album version so you might prefer listening to it instead.)
I would say that a lot of people would be surprised to hear that Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is probably my favorite song by the Smashing Pumpkins; it’s quite different from their usual fare. I’ve always loved piano music, and this song is, I think, a really beautiful example of the wonderful emotional depth that a piano can express. I don’t think anyone could argue that the piano isn’t the greatest instrument of all time. One of the things that’s so impressive about this song is that despite it only consisting of a single instrument, it has a truly full sound and quality to it (though in the actual album version there is a subtle string arrangement added in as well). It grabs you and it fills you and you feel the emotions. I think that it’s a song that is perfectly named because when you listen to it you really do experience what might be called “infinite sadness”. And any song that can touch you in that way is something that should be considered to be truly special.