The album is composed of reworked versions of the music recorded for the soundtrack to director Mark Cousin’s acclaimed documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, which first aired on BBC Four last summer.
Constructed entirely of archive film, Atomic is an impressionistic kaleidoscope of the horrors of our nuclear times - protest marches, Cold War sabre-rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima - but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how x-rays and MRI scans have improved human lives. Mogwai’s soundtrack encapsulates the nightmare of the nuclear age, but its dreamlike qualities too. It is the latest in the band’s series of impressive soundtracks and scores, following acclaimed albums Les Revenants (The Returned) and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.
Cousins says of Atomic, the film: “I’m a child of the nuclear age, and in my teens I had nightmares about the bomb. But physics was my favourite subject in school, and I nearly studied it at university. Learning about the atomic world excited me. It was like abstract Star Wars.”
Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite says: “The Atomic soundtrack is one of the most intense and fulfilling projects we've taken on as a band. Ever since we went to Hiroshima to play and visited the peace park this has been a subject very close to us. The end results, both the film score and the record are pieces I'm extremely proud of.”
STAFF COMMENTS says: Continuing along the same route as their much heralded synthesiser-heavy 2014 album, Rave Tapes, comes Atomic. Though not strictly an album (it is of course, a soundtrack first and foremost), it is as emotive and moving as you would expect from a band as dab-handed at soundscaping as Mogwai are. Even from the very first piece, twinkling synths meet with triumphant GYBE-esque horns, over a slowly whirling background, this is not quite the most melodic track on the album, but serves as an unsettlingly pleasant introduction. Much like the subject matter investigated in the film, this album is full of emotional ups and downs. Optimistic and dark in equal measure but stunningly gorgeous throughout.
says: Mogwai bring their soundscapes to another stunning score. This one is a experimental documentary that looks at the Hiroshima nuclear bomb and its legacy.
The Scottish ensemble produce a soundtrack full of synthesizer bliss which finely balances the darkness and certain optimism that is reflected in this highly recommended documentary. If you enjoyed the Zidane soundtrack, this is for you.