MOGWAI: The Hawk Is Howling [Matador]

If you’ve lost touch with the band’s work, something new from Mogwai almost demands a barefoot run through the bountiful legacy of these psychedelic master painters from Glasgow, just to see if they’ve still got what it takes. Rest easy, the group that makes you wish you’d gone to film school so you could’ve built a movie around its expansive instrumentals—works that seem to come rumbling from the molten core of the earth itself—hasn’t changed much from the glory days of early albums such as 1997’s Young Team. Two minutes into “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead,” and it’s just like returning to the familiar smells and dog-eared menu of a favorite restaurant after a long absence. It’s amazing what Mogwai can do with a few simple ingredients. From a solitary piano and a few electric-guitar chords reverberating quietly in somebody’s basement, the song builds in intensity until it becomes a thundering river of lava with a glockenspiel precariously riding the floodtide. Consumer tip: If your house needs shingle-replacement, “The Precipice” at maximum volume might accomplish the demolition of the old roof at a fraction of the cost. []

—Jud Cost