Attempt to transcribe the lyrics to Katrien by Mogwai

I’ve always loved the song Katrien by Mogwai, from their album Mogwai Young Team. It’s often classed as an instrumental, but there are spoken vocals, although they are low in the mix and frequently drowned out almost completely by the music. According to the band themselves, the words are then-member Brendan O’Hare “talking shite about yetis or something like that, don’t ask me why”1. O’Hare was later kicked out of the band, reportedly for talking during an Arab Strap performance. Rock and roll.

Anyway, despite them clearly being rambly nonsense, I’ve always been curious as to what the words spoken during Katrien actually are, and since nobody else on the internet seems to have attempted to properly transcribe them, the below represents my best effort. The parts I’ve found so far inaudible or unintelligible are indicated with an ellipsis, and bear in mind that that’s probably about 70% of the song, but I’ve worked out enough to get a flavour of the whole.

Although O’Hare does start off by talking about Yetis, the main influence on the words seems to be Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche. Some parts, such as those about “dying at the right time” are almost direct quotations.

I’ve been reading about and looking at pictures of Yetis from various parts of the globe. Pakistan, China and Malaysia. Although you always go into these things with more than a sense of skepticism, I can remember thinking, oh my god, this seems almost (real?)

In the distance Napoleon shoots the nose off the Sphinx … half tempted, I suppose. But unfortunately … is trying too hard… Anyway under the cover of a cannon’s fire <fart noise>, I made a beeline for the door.

Last time I was reading random books, I met an interesting man called Frederick, told me that many people die too late and a few too early. Should try to let them die at the right time. Don’t become a domestic animal, a herd animal, a sick human animal … For death is no festival…

New religions follow … leads to cosmology … God’s plan … as that was taken over by people. Downstairs I could feel that this place, time, et cetera (balance?) . Unfortunately the (dawning?)… the universe since time began. This (?) is … time is not created by mortal … starting.

…eyes been drawn … large man in the cloud. This is the point of genesis for all human life in the universe. Here hidden in the vast cosmos of the whole of time and space are planets for us to populate. Lies … descended from a … ancestor … at that point he smiled … expanding throughout the universe, into the past, the future .. time … extremely (likely?)

The (populous?) becomes more …

I can no longer see or hear or feel anything. I see and hear and feel everything simultaneously.

I awake in the corridor, Frederick smiling, standing over me. “What did I tell you?” he said. “How did you know?” “How do you know?” He just smiled and walked off. And from where I was lying I could see the (satin?) exterior of the …

The above was transcribed via careful repeated listens with headphones and much fiddling of the equalizer. If anyone with better audio equipment or processing skillz can provide any further suggestions, let me know in the comments. Unfortunately some bits, particularly the latter section where there seems to be multiple voices talking at once, will probably never be intelligible without hearing an isolated vocal from the original recording.


  1.  http://youngteam.co.uk/brightlight/eng/yngteam.php  

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