Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003

Scotland’s Mogwai initially built its reputation as instrumental “pedal-hoppers” reveling in ecstatic, apocalyptic gusts of volume bursting forth from hazy, pretty passages. With each new album, the band succeeded in communicating mood through less than obvious means—shading with layers of guitars, keyboards and swelling feedback. Influential and recently departed Brit DJ John Peel introduces this compilation culled from Mogwai’s numerous sessions performed live on his radio broadcasts. Although the album’s songs rarely include vocals, two of the band’s most accessible tunes, “Cody” from 1999’s Come On Die Young and “Secret Pint” of 2001’s Rock Action, do. Both are delicate and deliberate, and the precise manner with which each is delivered is so hushed that even breathing might obscure the dynamics. “R U Still in 2 It” explores blossoming sheets of stillness and slow-motion, giving way to a cathartic organ drone dissolving into nothingness. Nearly 10 years, four albums, and numerous singles into Mogwai’s brilliant career, this collection of live performances is the perfect introduction for anyone curious about the band and is absolutely essential for anyone already a fan.