Mogwai Noise Snippet

From a Mogwai gig review at The Guardian:

Not enough is written about the sensual pleasure of being bathed in noise. There’s probably a good reason for this. Pretension is a constant danger. It’s hard enough to articulate what rock music actually sounds and feels like when there are lyrics to analyse and themes to play with. When – as in the case of Mogwai, a largely instrumental Glaswegian five-piece – there are few words, just sinuous guitar lines erupting into ear-splitting volume, the risk of ending up in Pseud’s Corner, waffling on about cathedrals of sound, is high.

But here goes. Being bathed in a wash of deafening guitar noise is lovely.

It really is that simple. Lovely. :)

Words About Noise

I liked the introduction to Bryan Berge’s review of Tom Smith/Sightings’ Gardens Of War:

“Noise defies language. In the everyday sense, noise is the category of sound that cannot be explained (“what is that noise?”) or doesn’t merit explanation (background noise). Thus noise is marked primarily in its relation to language, or more precisely in that lack of relation. In a technical sense, noise lacks the typical harmonic patterns that mark most resonant sounds produced by this wide world o’ vibrating objects. This too is a refusal of language, that most important of organized sounds in our acoustic lives. And finally, noise music attempts to obliterate our critical faculties, to send reason scurrying to a tranquil wrinkle deep in the brain stem while caustic sound ravages the ears. At its best, noise overwhelms, leaving the listener a battered, quivering mass of flesh who gulps for air and squeaks like an animal but who certainly does not smugly put down the headphones and deliver a discourse on the effectiveness of the brutal crunching sound in the fourth minute of the third track.

But here I go anyway.”


“Whenever I was tempted to form a thought during Gardens of War – “this song sounds like a particularly frightening Sunburned Hand of Man session overrun by homicidal robots” or “is that fuzz guitar playing some sort of insect melody�” – a grating din arrived to punish me. We’re talking some serious negative reinforcement here. So I never strived for language and conscious analysis again – all that you see here was written after the album had seeped into my skin after so many listens that I could relive it without the threat of another storm cloud breaking in my ears.

Only guttural grunts and surreal words-in-isolation issued from my brain and mouth while the record played.

As such, I did a spot-on impersonation of Tom Smith’s vocals.”

There’s also a bit about being forced into a corner by a big angry man with a genre fetish, but it doesn’t work well when excerpted.


I decide my cheek and the library table are getting on a little too well for their own good, so I stagger to my room and put on some Sonic Youth at their most dissonant and abrasive – crashing guitars, wailing feedback, screamed vocals, the lot. I jump around a lot.

Feeling better, I go downstairs for dinner and find a string quartet playing in the dining room. How nice. A former hallmate’s brought his quartet here for some small-scale performance experience. I sit down and spend most of the performance trying to physically restrain my cringes at off-pitch notes and jittery timing, both of which literally give me goose-bumps in their imprecision.

Sometimes life’s little juxtapositions amuse me.