Mogwai - Central Belters
The latest release from Glaswegian sonic terrorists Mogwai is a mammoth three and a half hour career retrospective from the past 20 years; though not too mammoth considering the length of some of the band's tracks.
Not long after the release, early addition to the line up – guitarist John Cummings – left the group to pursue other projects, so this collection is a fitting end to a chapter in Mogwai’s long history. From bratty Blur baiting upstarts - selling Blur: Are Shite t-shirts at T in the Park in 1999 - constructing menacing tracks from one chord for 15 minutes (if you were lucky, maybe two chords), to 2001's piano heavy Rock Action, poppier Hardcore Will Never Die.. from 2011, and incorporating electronica more and more to mature their sound to take us up to 2013's Rave Tapes.
Central Belters is one of the best career retrospectives released in a long time. Far from being just a greatest hits collection, the album selects choice tracks from each of the eight studio albums, soundtracks and b-sides, and includes EP only tracks, alternative cuts, and other rarities -including 'Earth Division' from 2012's Occupy This Album compilation. The expertly chosen tracks also wisely avoid the pitfall of listing in chronological order, kicking off with 'Summer' (the Mogwai sound) and taking the listener on a journey from the gentle electronics of 'Auto Rock', to the beautifully fragile cracked vocals of 'CODY', to the out and out noise of 'Batcat' and 'Mogwai Fear Satan', taking in the style changing 'Mexican Grand Prix along the way. Welcome additions to the record also arrive in the form of 'Devil Rides' (featuring 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erikson) and 'Stanley Kubrick'.
As with all best of releases, you're never going to please everyone – where are 'Like Herod' and 'Ex-Cowboy'- but the collection is an expert representation of the group’s diverse history, style and influences (such as My Bloody Valentine, Kraftwerk and Slint). Many contemporary bands (see Explosions in the Sky) owe a huge debt to the Scots pioneers. While it may not win any new fans, Central Belters is just rewards for those who have followed them from Young Team and beyond.