MOGWAI with BARDO POND at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Sunday (March 25). Sold out. 416-466-0313. Rating: NNNNN
For a group who initially made their name on sheer volume and intensity, Mogwai are sounding awfully quiet these days.The Glasgow five-piece's fantastic new Rock Action album, out April 24, continues the gradual decrease in volume that began with 99's Come On Die Young disc and took deeper root on last year's EP + 2.
The stark, Slint-damaged minimalism is gone. In its place is an almost orchestral approach to understated rock music, layered with lilting strings, banjos, Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys singing in Welsh and a song called Secret Pint.
"There were people who complained when we went all quiet, and maybe now they'll whine again because we've gone all, uh, psychedelic," singer/guitarist Stuart Braithwaite offers from Texas. Mogwai play a sold-out show at the Opera House Sunday and return to town in May.
"There's a lot of space on this record. On the last track, you can hear the noise of someone cutting up vegetables in the kitchen."
Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann adds his trademark wide-screen touch to the disc, and there's an epic swell running through Rock Action that the Mogwai of old could only have dreamed about. Trust Braithwaite when he says fans will be surprised.
"I didn't think it was that different than our other stuff at the time," he says. "When I hear it now, though, I'm flattened. We knew what we wanted when we went into the studio, but that means fuck all.
"I think it sounds different because we had a lot more money. This record cost almost 100 times more than our first album, and I can hear where the money was spent. We could have done it a lot cheaper, but what fun would that be?"