Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mogwai's Avinu Malkenu - Post-rock for Elul

So here's an interesting one. A band gets taught the simple, powerful, Jewish melody Avinu Malkenu, Our Father, Our King. They get caught up in it, and work with it, until it becomes the anchor song of their set. Their apocalyptic encore piece. Then they release it as a 22 minute single. A Yom Kippur prayer become cathartic experience for an arena full of screaming fans.

The band is the post-rock group Mogwai, from Scotland. Post-rock is a form of art-rock that emerged from the indie and post-punk scene's of the 70's, 80's and 90's (e.g. Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth but also Pink Floyd and Can.) Like other post-rock groups, Mogwai is mostly instrumental music, alternating between quiet lyrical passages and growling, furious guitars and drums. Their Avinu Malkenu is raises up a maelstrom and then resolves it, letting the simple melody break through. I find it strangely moving.

Mogwai at the Royal Albert Hall

By the way, this is the second post-rock band I've features in Teruah, though I didn't know the term the first time. The first was The Silver Mt. Zion, who's song "God Bless Our Dead Marines" still is one of my favorite Teruah discoveries. This is also the second time I've featured unexpected versions of Avinu Malkenu. The first was by the jam band Phish, another group known for long musical explorations.

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