The Hawk Is Howling

Few bands on Earth can instill sprawling, instrumental mountains of sound with equal parts urgency and intricacy like Mogwai. The Scottish group is an indie-rock descendent of such classical music giants as Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky, but with roots planted far outside the classical milieu. The Hawk Is Howling glides between breathtaking glacial drift and forest-fire fury. Opening number "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead" builds to a crescendo of beauty and tragedy that's filled with psychedelia. "Batcat" rages with rolling, Jesus Lizard-esque rhythms and "Scotland's Shame" demonstrates the volatile aspects of minor chords. There's not a moment of downtime on The Hawk. Every note and every echo factors into a delicate equation that demands and rewards undivided time and attention. 4 stars