Saturday, July 21st, 2007
Wake Up And Go Berserk
Toronto has gone kind of soccer-mad of late. Our new MLS team Toronto FC has been a huge success, probably far more than anyone anticipated, that Beckham guy makes his MLS debut right here in a couple weeks and we’re currently hosting the FIFA Under-20 tournament (as well as laying a beating on some of the teams, but I digress).
This is not to say I’m a soccer fan. I played when I was 6 or 7 years old but never took to it and gave it up entirely when the only goal I ever scored was awarded to one of my teammates because we sort of looked alike from behind and no one believed I could score. But even as a non-follower of the sport, I know who Zinedine Zidane is – not from his legendary career, but from his infamous head-butt of an opposing player in the 2006 World Cup final, the last game of his career. But it’s his fame as a player and not his infamy that inspired the film, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait – this documentary used 17 cameras to film Zidane in real time over the course of a single game in 2005. Released in Europe last year and out on DVD there since January, it only made its theatrical debut here in Toronto a couple weeks ago and no, I haven’t seen it. For today I’m not talking about the film but the soundtrack, seeing as how it doubles as the latest studio album from Scotland’s Mogwai.
I imagine it’s a bit odd, trying to write up a film score without having seen the film, but considering that Mogwai have built their career on cinematic score-like instrumental rock, in this case it’s quite do-able. I’m not going to risk the wrath of all the footie fans out there by saying that soccer is a slow game, but if you spend a whole game watching just one player on the field, as the film does, there are more lulls than bursts of action, at least compared to watching a properly televised match. So in this instance I would imagine that Mogwai’s moody, slowburning score, which is pretty as often as it is menacing, works well in creating a sustained tension – and without the band’s trademark apocalyptic release – that makes me as curious to see the film as Explosions In The Sky did for Friday Night Lights.
And taken on its own as a new Mogwai record, completely detached from its soundtrack duties, Zidane still works. It’s less about structured songs than atmosphere and will certainly frustrate those who long for the days when the band still feared Satan but is very much in keeping with the current arc of their career that’s been more about crafting hypnotic melodies than adding mileage to the Big Muff Pi. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s an essential addition to anyone’s Mogwai collection but it’s certainly more than a footnote.
BlogTO has a review of the film from its screening at The Bloor a couple weeks ago and Plug-In Music has details on further collision of indie rock and jock culture on the new soundtrack for the Friday Night Lights telelvision show.
Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite is in town tonight to do a DJ gig at the UFO Club Hall & Stardust Disco (39 Lisgar) for a night presented by new vinyl single label Magnificent Sevens. In addition to sets by Braithwaite and his wife, there’ll be live music from Woodhands and The Boy Ballz. eye talked to Braithwaite about his DJ gigs and what’s in the pipe for Mogwai (which is a little bit more than what their website claims – “Absolutely nothing happening in the land of all things Mogwai”). If you stop by the party tonight, I dare you to request some Blur.
Sticking in Scotland, former Delgado Emma Pollock will release her debut solo album Watch The Fireworks on September 11. She’ll be in town supporting The New Pornographers on October 21 at the Phoenix.
Heading south of the English Scottish border, Newcastle’s Maximo Park, currently on tour in North America, stopped in for a session at Minnesota Public Radio which you can stream or download and they’ve just released a new video from Our Earthly Pleasures.
Even further south, NME reports that New Order are denying that they’ve split – only bassist Peter Hook has decided to call it quits. Singer/guitarist Bernard Sumner and drummer Stephen Morris intend to carry on, which makes lots of sense. Hook’s playing had nothing to do with the sound of New Order, after all.
And hopping back across the Pond, I’m happy to report that Soundscapes (Toronto music store) has a website! And it has content! My head just exploded.