Mogwai: Atomic (Temporary Residence) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, September 20th, 2020  



Temporary Residence

Jun 09, 2016 Issue # 57 - M83 Bookmark and Share

If any group can provide the soundtrack to a film about the nuclear age, it's Mogwai. Along the way in their epic career they have periodically taken on the task of translating their spacious and magnificent rock orchestration into the auditory language of moving image. Their scoring of the documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise is a mighty demonstration of their ascending apprehension of how to complement cinematic tone. These reworked versions of the film's music take an ambitious leap up from methodical, reflective maneuverings of their past scores, such as to the French television series Les Revenants and another documentary, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. In scope and narrative arc, Atomic's pieces communicate the consequential gravity of the subject matter it surrounds while marking a further evolution of the group's expressive range.  

Mogwai can convey the announcement of dread like no other, and this is certainly felt in appropriate measures towards illuminating the implications of atomic energy. Yet what's most impressive here is not only what greets you with thundering impact. There's a nimble handle that brings agility to tracks that might otherwise be oppressive, exhibited for instance in the dubstep drum machine accents of "SCRAM." "Ether" opens up with intricate ordering that builds in deliberate manner, a primer coating applied with more dexterity in recent Mogwai releases. Then in trademark transition, it abruptly takes off like a radder, turbo charged version of the Top Gun theme song.

Punctuated by an homage to scoring legend John Carpenter in "Weak Force," and anchored by the slow, slumbering percussive movements reminiscent of the band's early work, Atomic is a refinement of Mogwai's already fluent dramatic instrumental expressionism. (

Author rating: 7/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 7/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.