Bitterness Centrifuge, the latest from Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai, opens strong. Grating synths act as a warning toll to the atrocity that is about to occur. Not the song, but rather the act that it soundtracks.
Mogwai has never had an issue with setting a scene. They’ve never had a problem with creating tension either, and Bitterness Centrifuge is a perfect example of such suspense. It builds steadily, incorporating a slow beat and heavy, slightly unpleasant synths to install what can only be described as fear in the listener.
The third release of their upcoming soundtrack to a BBC documentary, Bitterness Centrifuge is also the third track on their upcoming album. Sitting just before U-235, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the subject of this track is less the dropping of the bomb than the lead up to enrichment. It’s an interesting approach, and I’d say it pulls it off well. The beauty of the track lies in its elemental simplicity, achieving power through patience and careful restraint rather than reckless abandon and sheer noise. Mogwai is often at their best when they hold back, and it makes the explosive aspects of their work all the more effective.
One other observation, in a larger sense, is that there is a very prominent electronic presence to not only this track, but also Ether and U-235, the two other tracks released so far. Coming off the back of 2014’s Rave Tapes, as well as a 6 track EP (half of which were remixes), this may signify a broader shift towards more electronic music from the band. Mogwai have always had a solid relationship with synths, but it seems like there’s an increase in the use of such instruments in later releases.
3. Bitterness Centrifuge
6. Weak Force
7. Little Boy
8. Are You A Dancer?
10. Fat Man
Image: Brian Sweeney