By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Born Into Trouble comes across like some kind of 58-minute wide-screen minimalist opera. Spare magnificence in eight sections: a Pink Floyd–ish intro, a circular four-note motif, pallid piano, and ambient bird & dog song, horns and strings, someone singing like John Lydon with stung lips, an unsettlingly earnest young girl preaching to the “brothers and sisters” of “beautiful, ridiculous plans,” a bruising, triumphal four-minute Sigur Ros/My Bloody Valentine/GYBE–style crescendo that bursts beyond the red into the black, and a Flaming Lips–kissed heartburst denouement.
11. It’s a fallen world, but you can’t let that bring you down: Wallowing in a quagmire of self-pity is sexy for only so long. GYBE’s beloved street-corner preachers — who appear on record after record, talking about the government and guns, when not passing off sophomoric Megadeth lyrics as their own — aren’t the only ones with eschatological visions, but they are the ones who’ve become stuck in a dead-end spin cycle. Their rap never changes; their torment never ceases. They burn up or flicker out, never finding the steady glow. The way out, the way through all this, is simple and eternal — it’s one that blinkered, bleak, self-doomed existentialists like the protagonists of Fight Club(and, probably, the desperate-to-believe GYBE folk) always miss. Hippocrates didn’t think of everything. There are other methods to cure disease, methods that lie beyond medicine, beyond the knife, beyond fire.
12. July 12, 1999: In their hometown of Glasgow, Mogwai join the headlining Godspeed for an encore of GYBE’s “J.L.H.”
13. Between A.D. 200 and 600: The Jewish psalm “Avinu Malkaynu” (“Our Father, Our King”) is written. It is a lengthy prayer admitting guilt and asking God’s forgiveness, recited repeatedly during Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). All but the final four pleas are chanted in silence.
Mogwai’s “My Father My King” is a 20-minute rendition of “Avinu Malkaynu”’s melody recorded as an electric-guitar-led instrumental. It’s not just the best use of a Jewish melody since the bridge on Parliament’s “Flash Light,” it’s arguably the best thing Mogwai have ever done on record. This is music that’s up to something: There is a power here that meets the demand of the psalm’s lyrics, which read, in part, “Hear our prayer, we have sinned before thee/have compassion upon us and upon our children/help us bring an end to pestilence, war and famine/cause all hate and oppression to vanish from the earth/inscribe us for blessing in thy book of life/let the new year be a good year for us.”
The music is tender, massive, lyrical and dense, a delicate, wordless almost-elegy that ascends into all-consuming, roiling, cleansing noise. The volume range is so extreme that when John Peel recently broadcast the song on his Radio One program, the BBC’s emergency backup tape kicked in for several minutes: The broadcasting system had sensed silence — “dead air” — during the piece’s opening section.
To the contrary: Air has rarely ever been so alive.
SET FIRE TO FLAMES Sings Reign Rebuilder (Alien8)
THE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA & TRA-LA-LA BAND Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward | (Constellation)
HRSTA | L’Éclat du Ciel Était Insoutenable | (Fancy/Alien8)
MOGWAI | My Father My King (Matador)