My Father My King

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"My Father My King"
Single by Mogwai
Released 23 October 2001 (UK)
Format CD, 12"
Recorded Mayfair Studios
London, England
Genre Post-rock
Length 20:12
Label Rock Action
ROCKACTCD10 (UK, CD)
ROCKACT10 (UK, 12")

Matador
OLE538-2 (US, CD)
Play It Again Sam
PIASV007CD (EU, CD)
Spunk Records
URA055 (Aus/NZ, CD)
Toy's Factory
TFCK-87273 (Japan, CD)
Mogwai singles chronology
"New Paths to Helicon, Pt. 1"/"New Paths to Helicon, Pt. 2"
(1997)
"My Father My King"
(2001)
"Friend of the Night"
(2006)

"My Father My King" is a song by Scottish post-rock band Mogwai, which was released as a single in October 2001. Over 20 minutes long, and billed as a companion piece to the album Rock Action, a sticker on the cover of the album describes it as "two parts serenity and one part death metal".[1] The song is regularly used to end Mogwai concerts, often extended in length.[2][3]

Overview[edit]

The song is completely instrumental, and is based on the melody from Avinu Malkeinu, a Jewish prayer recited on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and certain fast days, the melody of which had been taught to the band by producer Arthur Baker.[4] The song was recorded by Steve Albini at Mayfair Studios, London in August 2001. [5]

Composition[edit]

The song is based on two separate melodies from Avinu Malkeinu. It begins with a single guitar slowly playing the first melodic phrase, shortly afterwards joined by a second playing a similar counter-melody. A drumbeat enters at 1:32, and a third guitar at 2:16. The guitars slowly get louder until at 4:00 a harsh distorted guitar starts up, followed by a second at 4:35. The loud guitars start to drown out the other instruments until at 5:46, the noise subsides with one of the distorted guitars picking up the melody. This guitar ceases at 6:18, leaving a single "quiet" guitar, and the bass and drums too cease until there is only a faint trace of the melody on the single guitar.

At around the 8 minute mark, the guitar shifts to the second of the melodies. In a similar manner to the first part of the song, a second guitar joins the first, and eventually the distorted guitars join until the melody cannot be heard. The heavy guitars then play a number of different riffs whilst the song slowly becomes louder, until the drums drop out and the melodies cease at around the 17 minute mark. The rest of the song is composed of fragments of guitar noise and feedback which abruptly cuts out at the end.[6]

This sample (3:46 to 4:15 of the song) illustrates the first basic melody line from Avinu Malkeinu, and shows how the melody continues as the first distorted guitar is introduced.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Reception[edit]

Mogwai had been playing the song well before it was released, the first known performance being in Brussels in May 1999.[7] A typical live review from 2001 says "The encore 'My Father My King' is simply a plethora of white noise. Simplified and textured guitar riffs turns into controlled feedback and the bass following suit. Soon the control turns to absolute mayhem. Frequencies swirling around the venue hit each member of the audience full on in the chest".[8] It was thus unsurprising that a number of reviews of the single referred to the live shows; Michael Clarke, writing in Drowned in Sound, said that "their live set highlight has been a mysterious, unreleased carnival of noise mainly used as the closing track ... Mogwai literally brought the house down and blew anyone, within distance to hear, away each time they played the instrumental haunting track". Giving the song a score of 10/10, his closing sentence was "20 minutes. No vocals. Sometimes words just can’t describe or do justice to music this good".[2]

Christopher F. Schiel, writing for Pitchfork commented on the band's assertion that the song should be considered alongside the Rock Action album, saying "this demonstration of might and dynamic is exactly what that album lacked" and "unlike Rock Action, this recording doesn't just push the envelope; it shoves".[4] Allmusic commented that the song "retains the experimental, arty flair Mogwai is identified with" and noted the "nicely noisy production job from a man accustomed to such things, Steve Albini".[1] There were dissenting voices, however, notably from PopMatters, who dismissed Albini's recording as sounding "like a glorified soundboard tape. It is utterly lacking in imagination and depth" and summarising the song as "a hackneyed and melodramatic concept piece".[9]

Track listing[edit]

Some international editions of the single include two live songs recorded at Rothesay Pavilion, Isle of Bute on 14 April 2001, and a video for the song "dial:revenge".

  1. "My Father My King" – 20:12
  2. "You Don't Know Jesus" (live) - 14:10 (Australia/New Zealand and Japan releases only)
  3. "New Paths to Helicon, Pt. 1" (live) - 7:55 (Australia/New Zealand and Japan releases only)
  4. "dial:revenge" (video) (Japan release only)

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Steve Albini – engineer, mixer
  • Arthur Baker - producer

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Brian O'Neill (27 October 2001). "My Father My King review". Allmusic. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Michael Clarke (28 October 2001). "My Father My King review". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Thomas Hannan (22 September 2006). "Mogwai & Kid 606 - London Royal Albert Hall - 22/9/06". rockfeedback.com. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Christopher F. Schiel (29 October 2001). "My Father My King review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "My Father My King". Brightlight!. 22 October 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Scott Herren (16 January 2005). "My Father My King review". SputnikMusic. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Setlist, Brussels 5 May 1999". Brightlight!. 22 October 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Colm Downes (21 April 2001). "Mogwai live review, Dublin 17 April 2001". cluas.com. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  9. ^ James Beaudreau (22 September 2001). "My Father My King review". PopMatters. Retrieved 17 January 2011.