Mogwai – My Father My King

My Father My King

The label reads, “My Father My King is Mogwai at their most extreme and intense – two parts beautiful serenity and one part death metal,” and that pretty much hits the nail on the head. The EP is just one track, with the same moniker as the EP itself, and the sprawling composition runs for just over 20 minutes. It is meant to be a companion piece to the band’s previous effort, last spring’s Rock Action.

The song is a return to the epic, and it has the powerful dynamics some say Rock Action lacked. “My Father My King” has been a part of the band’s live shows for quite some time, and the expert production of Steve Albini does a splendid job of capturing that raw intensity. The base melody is a simple and repetitive one, extracted from an ancient Jewish hymn traditionally sung on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which pleads to God for grace in spite of sins, and pieces of the words to the prayer can be found on the disc’s inserts. That base melody is shaken about and morphed several times before this EP is over, but it is always there, haunting you as you listen.

“My Father My King” creeps in quietly and will have you adjusting your volume levels at first. The first minute is solely guitar melody, with a second one creeping in at the one-minute mark, a simple drum beat starting after another 30 seconds, and bass filling things out just moments later. Things get knocked up a notch around the three-minute mark, as you gradually become aware that this is building towards something incredible. Things remain the same for a bit, but at the four-minute mark, the fuzz guitar pedal is stomped on, the beat becomes a little more intense, and the focus switches to a hint of stunning middle-eastern feel. Things get heavier 30 seconds later, and downright metal-ish at the 5-minute mark, tossing bits and pieces of guitar noodling into the texture, and reaching one of several climaxes in the piece. The progression then takes the same steps backwards, gradually quieting down to a dull roar and then creeping further back into its shell until at around 7 minutes, when it returns to just guitar and gentle cymbal tapping, which eventually fades out and leaves the guitar on its own for what sounds like it could be the end, but you should know better.

The guitar grows slightly louder and more in focus, as the drums sneak back with a thumping bass drum beat that grows naturally into the bass guitar. Things grow louder again, and the fuzz returns to the guitars in a beautifully eerie fashion. The second climax is much like the first, building into a metal-like stomp but laced with a hint more distortion and feedback. Just after 13 minutes pass, things get heavier and more frightening than they have thus far, with the mid-tempo middle-eastern feel showing its raw power. The 15-minute mark represents the downward spiral towards conclusion with blood-curdling guitar howls, and things begin to quiet down a minute later, letting the feedback and noise take over as the drums drop back into their cave, and equipment sounding as if it were being brutally broken to pieces. Screeches and echoes haunt the final three minutes of the piece, bleeding into an abrupt but fitting cut ending.

Just when I began to wonder if the “post-rock” thing was getting overdone, this one composition has reaffirmed my faith.