Not much happens on Mogwai’s ironically titled third album, Rock Action (Matador), but the beauty and precision with which these Glaswegians do nothing is breathtaking. The quintet has progressed yet farther from the Slint imitation of its debut, augmenting its meticulously controlled and cinematically structured guitar sounds with some well-placed strings and brass. And though most of the instrumental tunes still chip away at a single idea over the course of a few minutes, there are exceptions; on the gorgeous “Take Me Somewhere Nice” guitarist Stuart Braithwaite actually sings, in a hushed pastoral voice, and “Dial: Revenge” sounds like a lost British folk tune. Philadelphia’s Bardo Pond, who open the show, have also practiced musical hypnosis for many years, but with more sludge and less rhythmic grace. The quintet’s most recent album, Dilate (Matador), finds them experimenting with acoustic sounds; sometimes they sound downright clunky, but sometimes their labor pays off: the violin playing of Isobel Sollenberger (whose singing lately sounds nearly as dyspeptic as Jennifer Herrema’s) may be rudimentary at best, but it blends nicely with the acidic wash of electric and acoustic guitars played by John and Michael Gibbons. Thursday, May 31, 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Steve Gullick/Aaron Igler.