"My Father My King" is an adaptation of a Jewish folk hymn, re-arranged by Scottish instrumental rock group Mogwai
. Early-90's dance producer Arthur Baker
found the specific melody for them, and is credited as co-arranger on the sleeve of the recorded version.
Although MFMK has been a frequent set-closer for Mogwai on the Rock Action tour, it didn't make it onto that most recent album. It was released later, on October 23, 2001, as a separate CD single. MFMK is the only track on the disc, and the version released here is twenty minutes and twelve seconds in length. It was recorded by In Utero producer and legendary bastard Steve Albini, and released in the US by Matador, with additional logos on the back for the band's UK label Pias and something new called Rock Action Records, apparently the band's own label.
The song is instrumental, so I can't give you lyrics, and anything I have to say about sound will be inadequate or has been said better in other nodes about the band. Still, "My Father My King" may be the perfect... I'd say distillation, but a track clocking in at 20:12 is a little long for that, let's try crystallization, of what Mogwai's sound has become to date. There's the oscillation between beatific, gentle melody and complete kamikaze noise, but unlike some of their previous work, the oscillation isn't all that rapid this time. It builds like a pot of water whose temperature slowly rises, so the sea life inside falls asleep before it can realize it's getting boiled to death. Then it subsides again, changing time signature and rebuilding with a new melody more haunting than the last. Even its hardest, most balls-out death-metally sequences seem stained with quiet melancholy, although at some moments while listening, I wonder how they're getting away with such bombastic phrasing and still keeping the world convinced they're indie rock. Actually, I wonder that about indie rock bands all the time. But listening to MFMK, that doubt seems part of the process too, distancing you just a bit, as if the wall of noise was only put there to guard your own solitary thought process from the outside world.
Perhaps the best things I can give you are a reminder of the events that were fresh on everyone's minds at the time of the single's release and, in light of that, the legend printed inside the thin CD booklet:
HEAR OUR PRAYER WE HAVE SINNED BEFORE THEE HAVE COMPASSION UPON US AND UPON OUR CHILDREN HELP US BRING AN END TO PESTILENCE, WAR AND FAMINE CAUSE ALL HATE AND OPPRESSION TO VANISH FROM THE EARTH INSCRIBE US FOR BLESSING IN THY BOOK OF LIFE LET THE NEW YEAR BE A GOOD YEAR FOR US