Les Revenants

This week my trusty turntable is spinning Mogwai‘s Les Revenants. In the traditional sense of the phrase, this LP is an OST for French TV drama ‘Les Revenats‘ (or ‘The Returned’ if you’re watching the subtitled version on 4 as we were). However,¬†Stuart Braithwaite in interview with Edith Bowman explained how they had produced and mastered the album as a stand-alone piece of music. Interestingly then, as an avid music junkie and someone who had followed the series on television before listening to the album, the album flows beautifully instead of flitting from intense instrumentals to soothing ambient pieces like one expects from most OSTs.

Mogwai are a five-piece post-rock group heralding from Glasgow. A former housemate of mine was a borderline super fan of theirs so I had heard a fair amount of their work before. I’d even usedone or two tracks to set a motion graphics project to. Their back catalogue is extremely interesting, showing a stark transition from gritty, distorted post-hardcore to an almost Eno-esque ambience. Seemingly, the band have unconsciously drifted into a wonderful nich√© in soundtracks after having produced music for 2006’s ‘Zidane: aA21st Century Portrait’ a French documentary about Football legend Zinedine Zidane.

The Returned is an etherial and moody drama set in a small alpine town where the dead begin to rise. This may sound like flogging a dead horse as it’s exceptionally rare to find any true originality in zombie flicks these days. Even AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ and it’s basis in Robert Kirkman’s comic series (which is currently adorning my bookshelf) rarely introduces new ideas, perspectives or angles. The Returned plays on the dichotomy of the living and the dead within the returned characters. A fresh angle which is not hugely dissimilar to BBC Three’s In The Flesh.

The soundtrack is an atmospheric, almost ambient affair with a real Mogwai hallmark to it. Time singatures vary, strings descend into crackling guitar and moods shift fluidly from track to track. The album reminds you of the moods within the show without echoing them exactly. It acheives exactly what they wished it to in that it holds it’s own as a record. Had I not seen the program I am near-certain I would have equally enjoyed the music and, equally, had I not known of Mogwai I am sure I would have enjoyed the show. The music is a true stand-out feature for me in the series which sent me straight to the nearest record shop but I feel it’s worth noting that the music is in no way the ‘hero’ of the show. It elegantly accompanies and heightens the moods in the series without ever stealing focus as you would want from such a thing.

TL;DR – Check out Channel 4’s ‘The Returned’ and then enjoy the album. It’s a match made in eerily foggy French heaven.