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Niall McCann writes and directs this documentary that chronicles the success of Scottish independent music in the 1990s. The story begins in Glasgow in 1994 when local rock band The Delgados formed independent record label Chemikal Underground to release their first single. After some initial success, the label was able to expand and signed a number of up-and-coming acts, including Mogwai, Arab Strap and Franz Ferdinand, which brought unprecedented success and cult status to the Scottish independent music scene. In this film, members of the bands reminisce about their early careers, including an infamous trip to play a gig in the small French town of Mauron, before reuniting for a special live performance in Glasgow's O2 ABC.
Stepping back from the somewhat more aggressive tone of their previous releases, Mogwai slow their already languorously paced instrumentals down even farther on this EP, creating a starkly beautiful and ferociously barbed collection. Bringing strings, horns, and, in the case of "Christmas Song," piano to the forefront of their repertoire, the band infuses each track with an almost palpable sense of nostalgia, their cinematic grandeur effortlessly conjuring moods and emotions in the listener. The opener "Stanley Kubrick" suggests a slowly approaching storm viewed across the desolate plains. "Christmas Song" is sweetly reflective, and hints at what the band Low would be like if they weren't such minimalists. "Burn Girl Prom Queen" swells gorgeously, propelled by a brass section. It isn't until the middle of the fourth track, "Rage: Man," that Mogwai brings in the distortion pedals of yore, but when they do, it's the sonic equivalent of a splash of ice water, bracing and absolutely necessary. If you buy one Mogwai record it should be this one. The American version of the EP adds two tracks to the UK edition--both are indispensable.
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