Mogwai flex their muscle, subtlety at dynamic turn at Belasco Theater

Mogwai at the Belasco Theater (Photo by Roy Jurgens)
Mogwai at the Belasco Theater (Photo by Roy Jurgens)

It’s starts with a simple solitary drone, shapeless and thin. As the note carries, it fattens itself on the chirps and tics that greet it like insects at dusk. Then arrives a warm blast of desert wind, giving the distracted drone a current on which to float. A percussive snap following by a metallic crash brings on a downpour of crystalline shimmer, an ice rain of arpeggios hammering down upon the stoic ground, and then, silence, but a wee scraping sound, suspended but deliberately oscillating into another evolving crescendo, until the effect of the Barkhausen stability criterion explodes into a sublime aural majesty.

There, that’s what Mogwai sounds like — a live soundtrack to the cinescape within your head, and the hundreds of other heads, at Mogwai’s stirring performance at the Belasco Theater on Tuesday night. It was the second time the band played Los Angeles in 2017, as they performed their acclaimed album “Atomic” as a live score to Mark Cousins’ acclaimed documentary “Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise” at the Theatre at Ace Hotel back in January.

This time around they are touring behind their latest release, “Every Country’s Sun,” their ninth album, which features the singles “Coolverine” and the rare vocal track “Party in the Dark.” Stoic and serene, lead guitarist and alchemist Stuart Braithwaite guided the band through a 14-song set that spanned their career. Post-rock, art-rock, math-rock, alt-rock, krautrock, shoegaze, the band that took its nom de guerre from a wily gremlin explores the similar territories traveled by the likes of Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky. Spurning some of the typical architecture of tension and release, they make a huge racket gracefully, and then, in an instant, make a tiny racket recklessly. This is intensely personal music. The audience stands awestruck and gobsmacked, absorbing the soundwaves and interpreting the emotions as if they were cells within a larger living organism.

Thirty years deep into their career, the Scottish lads have attracted a crowd that worships them with a cult-like fervor. For a band that deliberately shuns most vocals and conventional song structure for 10-minute musical swells, they enjoy a fan base that has a deep and appreciative knowledge of their catalog. Rather late to the game, I was won over by the astoundingly beautiful and haunting soundtrack they created for the brilliant French psych horror television series “Les Revenants.”

Tuesday’s concert was the second of a 17-date tour that will see Mogwai play across the U.S., Canada and Great Britain though December.