When we think of Mogwai, at one point the undisputed champions of post-rock, we usually think of their impressive debut, Young Team, or their extensive work on soundtracks (such as Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and Les Revenants). However, Mogwai have quite a number of releases under their belt – many of which are tragically underrated. One of these is the individual track, My Father My King; a twenty minute long belter released on its lonesome in 2001. Presumably left off any official album for its length and singularity, it’s found a niche for itself as one of those fandom gems that really deserves a little more attention.
Mogwai are a band known for their ability to build on their dynamics throughout their music, often moving from ghostly faint guitar twinkles to dramatic crescendos of distortion. After all, not many groups have as good an ear for such an emotional aural climb and it’s clearly something that’s going to be displayed in a track of this length. While evocative of previous material (in particular Like Herod), the recording’s crisp production and careful composition bring new life to an approach they’d already effortlessly mastered.
Centred in large part on two separate riffs, the band are able to show off just how expressive those aforementioned dynamics can be – using the ebbs and flows of volume far more than complex structuring. It becomes somewhat kraut-rock, dancing ever on through a revolving refrain which is actually admittedly very simple. The entropy of the whole thing is so utterly engaging though, as we’re led through a sinister yet playful landscape that only gets more imposing in its scope and depth.
When things quickly cool back down to a light and lonely guitar pluck, it feels like we’ve emerged from somewhere. The music of Mogwai is often magnificent when used in tandem with imagery, not even mentioning the inspiration it has on your imagination when hearing it. As we transition from one simple riff to another, it’s something that’s felt deeply when the listener is immersed enough. Left swimming in a tense, simmering waltz, things of course begin to bubble up again. Arriving at a conclusion of wailing and throbbing explosion that, as is often the case with Mogwai, suddenly cuts to a jarring silence, My Father My King provides anyone listening with a rich musical journey every time.
Deceptive in its melodic restraint, it’s certainly a work to be taken seriously. That’s clear with each careful auditory step, bringing with it some new nuanced element that sits beautifully with its previously established brethren. Essentially it falls directly into what Mogwai do best, and they happen to be firing on all cylinders for this one. Plus, with the inconsistency that their catalogue so often brings to the table, it’s nice to have something of this purity not dragged down by lethargic filler.
My Father My King, instead, is what it is. With that established, it’s only honest to say that what it is isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain patience to give a twenty minute track, focused on two melodies, the attention it deserves. Wanting music to be quicker in pace and more digestible is, of course, understandable. For those with the time, interest and wherewithal it’s almost guaranteed to reward. It’s a damn fine sample of Mogwai’s work too, so it could even be the start of a new obsession. It would have been for me once if I hadn’t heard Come On, Die Young first (controversially perhaps, still my favourite of their work).