After an impressive 15 year career, resulting in seven full length albums of disorientating maelstrom, Mogwai return yet again, carefully packing up their distortion pedals in favour of some gentle piano work for this EP. The guitars still play their part but the surging tumult of intensity that Mogwai’s known for is dampened a great deal here. Violins, double basses, and cellos are now leading the attack, and in style too it must be said. Recorded at the same time as Hardcore…, the four tracks here were deemed too divergent to make it on to the album, a wise move by all accounts. The chaste atmosphere on Earth Division would surely have gotten a beating if it was forced to mingle with distorted bullies such as ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ or ‘San Pedro’. As the first few notes ‘Get To France’ sink through, it becomes clear that the tone for this recording will be different to that of their last few releases. For such a minimal song it is genuinely stirring, it pierces right through your innards. It’s also has quite a soundtrack feel to it, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’d been lifted straight from a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film.
As this opening sets the tone it also serves as an archetype for the whole EP; what is true of ‘Get To France’ is true of the remaining tracks as well. They’re all strongly cinematic, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering the work Mogwai have done on Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, and a potential future collaboration with film maker Antony Crook. Each track seems like the foundation for some grand visual display, crying out for some deeply moving scenes to back up their prowess. ‘Drunk and Crazy’ is perfectly suited for some contrary hero’s final conflict before all is safe in the kingdom, while ‘Does This Always Happen?’ seems destined for a sombre montage.
With this release, Mogwai have highlighted a quality of their music that may have gone overlooked – a condensed tracklist telling a story with cinematic scope.