It feels a little weird and a little scary having to write a review of an album based on a natty, paltry album sampler of only four tracks - a bit on the stingy side, if you ask me. Well, I suppose you can't review an album when all you have is an album sampler - because it's not an album, is it? It's a sampler. So I don't have to. Review an album, that is. Phew! Wow, I feel a lot less intimidated now. I thought I was about to fail pitifully in an impossible mission. But now - now I'm thinking outside the box; now I realise what I must do; now, suddenly, do I see a new and clear horizon! I've never reviewed a sampler before. I wonder if it's going to prove an exciting, perspective-altering experience. Hmm. I suppose I could call it an 'EP'. Shut up, Lauren.
Mogwai - a gathering of Scottish planet-bashers who affectionately term their recording studio in Glasgow the 'Castle of Doom' - are often something spiritual. I have come to this conclusion based on the fact that, in my current state, this Saturday at midnight, you have to be something outrageously special to catch even a glimmer of my attention whilst I sit propped between a desk and a depressingly large array of clothes/work-related debris. Almost comatose from a horrendously freezing train ordeal surrounded by inebriated football fans pepped up on the Newkie Brown trying to read/be sick on my Sandman over my shoulder. Bloodshot, crying eyes from the glare of the computer screen. Some ridiculously-priced station coffee to constitute my dinner; which tasted of cardboard and burnt my tongue off anyway. Plates. Bottles. A vague sense of nausea and thirst. A gust of Arctic snow through the smashed window that no one's been arsed to fix yet. To penetrate the microscopic segment of my brain that is, somewhere, still working, you have to have something Very Goddamned Worthwhile to say, like a proclamation that the world is about to implode unless I lift my left hand just half an inch from the desk. You have to be a Coliseum-sized mug of Lemsip. Or you have to be Jesus performing a miracle in front of my nose. Or you have to be Mogwai.
A looping, tumbling guitar line saws into 'Glasgow Mega-Snake' to be promptly snapped and swallowed up by a flood of rising power, subsumed by pounding chords that cobras the world over are bashing their heads and performing mating rituals to. Far more immediately violent than anything on 2003's 'Happy Songs For Happy People', which geared itself towards spending long expanses of time lulling you into a false sense of security and then gouging your guts out behind your back before you'd registered the volume change (sneaky buggers), this track makes no delay in grabbing a fistful of kitchen knives and throwing them. Anywhere. Everywhere. Occasionally, one of these knives hits a dinosaur in the heart and it roars in agony. Then, when there are no blades left, it ceases as ferociously and abruptly as it began; a neat, clean kill.
In comparison, 'Acid Food' is a meek, slightly boring waft of dreamy, distorted voices but 'Travel Is Dangerous' succeeds in taking the former's somewhat unfulfilled blueprint and unravelling it into a towering and melodious monstrosity with no loss of power. Majestic, imperial masters of the slow-burning, ground-shaking earth rumble, Mogwai paint vast scenes of a disastrous apocalypse in your mind and somehow, somehow, manage to make them beautiful; who'd have thought that massive vistas of destruction could be, in some terrifying and disturbing way, so glorious? Theirs is the sound of the world crashing to pieces around your ears - and you, sat smiling, not even caring.