Mogwai – Les Revenants (2013)
I don’t know if you have been watching/have watched the excellent French dark supernatural drama, Les Revenants (The Returned). Here in the UK, we are five episodes in, with only three to go.
Les Revenants is a brilliant TV programme about the human stories surrounding the return from the dead of various members of a small community in the French mountains, overlooked by a dam. The programme shows the changes in relationships that death had brought and the effect resurection has on them, as we learn more about the circumstances surrounding the deaths, having revelation of the characters and second guessing motives and even who is dead or alive, all-the-while being immersed in mystery after mystery as new information is slowly dripped to us. The whole programme is the rightful heir to Twin Peaks’s crown.
It is quite a bold move on the part of Channel 4, here in the UK, to show a French programme with subtitles, but I am so glad they did.
One of the things that makes the programme so special is the atmosphere; it is so enveloping, at times dark and dense, and part of that is the music.
Mogwai were commissioned to record the soundtrack before the first shots were even made, and it is said that the director, Fabrice Gobert, played the soundtrack during filming to get the atmosphere right. If that is true, then Mogwai have had a hand in creating the atmosphere rather than just ameliorating it.
This album is great, just great. On its own, it is a great work, dark, brooding, thoughtful and evocative; it can hold its own in a context outwith the programme.
Mogwai are a well-known Scottish post-rock band, formed in 1997, who, to my mind, have released some great albums in the form of Mogwai Young Team (1997) and Come On Die Young (1999), before they dropped off my radar. Five albums and two soundtracks (including Clint Mansell’s fantastic score to Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain), and Mogwai are still going strong.
The final track here, Wizard Motor, is a deep heavy fuzzy number, as claustrophobic as a casket, but wonderfully crafted. Most of the rest of the tracks aren’t as heavy, but are just as dark and oppressive. Whisky Time starts with a foreboding little melody, ever so evocative in the show as it precludes the coach crash in episode one, which is the first of many shocking moments. The track over the opening credits is the first track on the album, a sort of sinister nursery melody accompanied by a minimalist cello and piano combo: ominous, very ominous, but very beautiful!
All the pieces are instrumental apart from a rather curious but unsettling cover of Washington Phillips’ What Are They Doing In Heaven Today. As it stands, this track kind of sticks out like a sore thumb, and changes the atmosphere of the album. On its own, it isn’t a bad track, it is just so different to the rest of the album.
Overall a great TV programme and a great album to match; both are highly recommended.
Favourite tracks: Wizard Motor, Kill Jester, Fridge Magic