so, being people of taste you’ll be aware mogwai put out a new ep not so very long ago, (although long-ish, it’s high time I put this post up – I’ve delayed it several times on account of the stupidity involved, you’ll see what I mean). first off there’s a story, possibly apocryphal, that mogwai’s sound engineer thinks all their songs sound like the start of ‘she sells sanctuary’ slowed down. it’s easy, I think, to see what he means. but I took the intro slowed it down and edited it a bit and actually… it doesn’t. on the other hand, there’s a fellow scottish band with a touch of the epic who pop unbidden into the mind at mogwai gigs – i’m talking about big country. oh yes indeed. I think there’s more to it than majestic swirling bagpipe sounds and being scottish, although maybe it’s a curious strain of scottishness that only comes through in the music or something. mogwai’s barry is doing his bit for caledonian pride by opening a bar in berlin selling irn bru and tunnock’s wafers. which frankly, all pubs should. maybe it’s to do with having key stuarts in the band. if you remember big country, they were big in the 80’s (which is like, so totally now, and everything) and you perhaps recall them as a solid mainstream rock band who weren’t as rubbish as u2 or simple minds and had guitars that allegedly sounded like bagpipes. to be honest though, compared to what has passed for mainstream british rock music the past 20 years they were positively avant-garde. they had riffs, more than one per song! and odd time shifts and unusual song structures and interplay between the guitars not just rhythm and lead. so is this all just bizarre aural hallucination and scots stereotyping or what? here are edits of two tracks from big country’s debut ‘the crossing’ to see if they sound at all like mogwai. they’re slowed and pitched down a little, vocals chopped out and some distortion here and there (ok, a lot)
I’m beyond telling if it works but I do quite like them. now, sadly stuart adamson committed suicide almost 10 years ago. and yet big country are to go out on tour again next year for their 30th anniversary with him off the alarm on vocals. yeah really. probably can’t be as bad as the doors getting in ian astbury, but then what could? there’s another unexpected link here for you as when the cult appeared on top of the pops for ‘…sanctuary’ the guy playing the drums was mark brzezicki. of big country, who recorded the ‘love’ album with them squaring the circle, or something. meanwhile brzezicki’s other credits include a stint with ultravox whose keyboard genius billy currie helped fan gary numan make his album ‘the pleasure principle’ during the lull between john foxx and midge ure eras. in 2004 numan guested on afrika bambaataa’s cover of his own ‘metal’ from that album. bambaataa also famously got together with the rich buttery goodness of john lydon for the timezone single ‘world destruction’. lydon meanwhile has recently used that buttery richness to reform pil without inviting celebrated original guitarist keith levene who has instead in recent years made periodic live appearances with…
I warned you about this didn’t I?
meanwhile, back on the mogwai front – ‘hardcore will never die but you will’ is their best for a while and one of the best albums of the year too. you don’t have to believe me, the whole internet will be clogged with lists to that effect in the coming weeks. best not to worry about it much but check the better ones for stuff you might have missed, that’s my advice.