Mogwai was thee band that opened my eyes (and my heart) to post-rock. Someone has described post-rock as ‘non-rock music played with rock instruments.’ That’s only half true, of course. Post-rock is played with rock instruments, but what does non-rock mean? Post-rock is certainly heavily influenced by rock, and many post-rock songs could easily be generally sorted under rock. Post-rock is a strange genre of rock music, by the way; I still haven’t heard a really bad post-rock album! One of my music-geek friends could not name a bad post-rock album either. I can think of two possible explanations. Either post-rock is such an easy genre that anyone can do it, or only the really good ones do it. Maybe it is a little bit of both. Certainly, a lot of intelligent, gifted musicians play post-rock. But what does it take to ‘fail’ in post-rock? Singing too much? I don’t know, and that may be a bad sign.
Anyway, the first Mogwai album I owned was Rock Action. I was sold immediately. I love every song on that record, and I play it way too seldom. I remember seeing Mogwai on the Øya Festival in Oslo, in 2003 I think it was. The concert was a weird experience, with technical problems throughout, a short nod to Turbonegro (the headliner the previous day), and thrashing of equipment which almost ended up in a fight between the keyboardist and one from the stage crew, but it was still great. I listened to Happy Songs for Happy People (such an ironic title) on the way home, I think I bought it at the festival, and remember being a little bit disapointed at first. The album grew on me, however. Now, I regard the opener ‘Hunted By a Freak’ one of their greatest efforts; a definition I measure other post-rock bands against.
Below is a beautifully animated movie for ‘Hunted By a Freak’ (from YouTube). It is sad and grotesque in an almost Gaimanesque (see second half of post; I would prefer Gaimanic, or even Gaimanian, but Google has spoken) way.