Mogwai’s newest release, A Wrenched Virile Lore, is not, in fact, a new Mogwai release at all – it is a collection of 10 remixes (eight remixes, a “reworking” and a “reshape,” to be specific) of tracks from 2011’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. And much like a game’s expansion pack, it cannot fully be understood or appreciated without the original base content, as it serves to enhance what’s already in place; it cannot stand alone.
One of the biggest concerns with any remix album (or remastering, or live album) is the very real potential of no added value. Does adding an electronic loop and echoing vocal filter really enhance a song enough to justify buying it all over again?
Luckily, the artists behind Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’s reimagining had bigger and better things in store for the post rock album. Take, for example, Cyclob’s EVP Mix of White Noise – what was once a classically-constructed Mogwai instrumental has been stripped of its traditional instruments and made fully electronic, complete with a full set of auto-toned lyrics. The song is so far removed from its roots it can barely be called a remix – but it’s good, and at the end of the day that’s what matters most.
Mexican Grand Prix, RM Hubbert’s reworking, moves to the other extreme. He stripped the beat that drove the original and replaced it with acoustic Spanish guitar, softening the song and enhancing the original’s whispery vocals.
On the other hand, tracks like The Soft Moon Remix of San Pedro and Xander Harris’ How To Be a Werewolf take a more conventional route, augmenting the originals with chillwave loops as opposed to completely overhauling the content upon which they built.
Though Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’s You’re Lionel Richie is left off the remix collection, Rano Pano makes two appearances – once as Klad Hest’s glitchy, chiptune drun ‘n’ bass “Mogwai Is My Dick” remix, and again in Tim Hecker’s much smoother (which is decidedly the further of the two from the original) version.
Overall, A Wrenched Virile Lore is a solid release. It comes nowhere near replicating the album its material was sourced from, but is appreciable in its own right. Is it Mogwai? Not really. Does that matter, though?