Mesmerising soundtrack from post-rockers.
This re-worked soundtrack to the BBC4 documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, follows on from the bands acclaimed soundtracks Les Revenants and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Mogwai have always had a lot of space in their music; and they use that space to wonderful effect on Atomic. The songs are multi-layered, building up to a resolution of either horror or triumph – depending on how the miracle of the atomic world is used: to devastate or to create. The album opener, Ether, starts with tinkling sounds like falling glass, or poison rain, heralding the dawn of a morning like no other: the Atomic Age. Scram has a sound of radio waves spreading across space, with a deep drum and bass sound and a discordant off beat behind the steady pulse. Pripyat (a town in Chernobyl) has an ominous feel to it, like approaching war gods, with an Eastern European melody emerging from the doom. The final track is called Fat Man, the code name for the bomb that was dropped over Nagasaki. It starts with single piano notes, like drops in the ocean, and builds to a mournful cry of despair and horror, before ending with that single note echoing down the years. At 6 minutes long it is 5 minutes 59 seconds longer than it took approximately 40,000 people to be killed by Fat Man.
Haunting, thoughtful, moving and beautiful.
This article first appeared in Louder Than War Magazine, Issue 3 March/April 2016