Mogwai - Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003

Liam McGrady 21/05/2005

Rating: 4/5

This is a collection of 10 tracks from their BBC recording sessions, 8 of which were recorded for the late John Peel and if you're a newcomer to the wonderful world of Mogwai, there's no better place to start than this. Stretching back to 1996's sombre bass-heavy 'R U Still In 2 It' through the dreamlike 'New Paths To Helicon Pt's I & II' and onto 2003's hypnotising yet unsettling 'Hunted By A Freak' this is not quite a greatest hits package; but it's damn close. At the epicentre of this record is 'Like Herod', which is genuinely one of the finest pieces of music ever recorded. Extended to an epic 18 minutes from its already lengthy album version, like many of these tracks it improves greatly from the original. Sweeping from low key rumblings, to walls of sheer aggression, massive blasts of industrial noise, and back again; it scares the living daylights out of you, and makes your ears bleed black blood - fantastic. Mogwai virgins should begin here (then buy everything else they've ever done). For long time fans though, it's a must have as it finds the band at their recorded peak; free from the restraint of creating perfect album sounds and concentrating on performance alone.

(originally part of the This Month We Have Mostly Been Listening To... feature)