Mogwai

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

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Mogwai's Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait doesn't have much in the way of catchy melodies, and its tracks tend to blend into each other -- but these are precisely the reasons why this score is so effective. Droning, hypnotic, but subtly tense, this album is about crafting and sustaining a mood, even more so than the band's collaboration with Clint Mansell on the music for The Fountain. It's understandable why fans expecting another Young Team or even Mr. Beast might find Zidane too monochromatic: on tracks such as "Black Spider," Mogwai shift their famously wide-ranging dynamics into neutral, concentrating on the band's shimmering, introspective side; it's only toward the end of the over 20-minute hidden track tacked onto "Black Spider 2" that Mogwai approach heavier territory. Meanwhile, the moody piano and guitar themes repeat on "Half Time" and "Time and a Half," giving the score a unity that could seem monotonous separated from the film's context. However, while most of Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait is the musical equivalent of a faint but still distinct shadow, several tracks are standouts, albeit subtle ones. "Wake Up and Go Berserk" -- which follows in the footsteps of other ironically named Mogwai works like Rock Action and Happy Songs for Happy People -- is a thing of bleak beauty, mingling vapor-trail electric guitar textures with looping acoustic guitar melodies. Likewise, "7:25" and "I Do Have Weapons" are also sublimely poignant, without ever feeling like they're pandering. It's easy and true enough to say that this album will appeal mostly to Mogwai diehards, but it's such a quietly accomplished musical portrait of one of soccer's most complex and controversial personalities that Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait could very well add some soundtrack buffs and sports aficionados to the band's ranks of fans.

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