[Album Review] Mogwai ‘Rave Tapes’

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It’s been three years since Scottish post-rock band Mogwai graced us with Hardcore Will Die, But You Never Will and one year since the band’s recent TV score for the French horror drama Les Revenants (The Returned). Now the quintet is back with Rave Tapes, their eighth studio album. It is a highly anticipated release for many (including myself) and after several months of waiting it’s time for the world to hear the music.

The opening track, “Heard About You Last Night”, is subtle and soothing. It’s a beautiful piece, almost like a lullaby. Gentle echoes of wind chimes playfully mingle with guitars and atmospheric pads, like something you would hear on a windy Spring day. Meanwhile, “Remurdered” sounds like something that belongs in a 80′s slasher. It pulses with sinister energy and snaps forward unexpectedly. But through all of that there is a hypnotic allure, a seduction to the darkness. A bit past the halfway mark the song suddenly picks up in energy, as though the horrific festivities have begun and everyone is aware.

“Hexon Bogon” shows the band’s cinematic elements, brushed with lush textures, as does “No Medicine For Old Regrets”, which opened with what felt like a nod to classic King Crimson before moving into something much more heartfelt, far more aching. “Blue Hours” continued to be reminiscent of film and TV score, this time calling to mind Twin Peaks.

“Repelish” has gotten notice for it’s odd approach. Over top of slightly sinister yet engaging and gently warbling melodies is the story of how Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway To Heaven” is a Satanic call to arms. The “evidence” is laughable yet it fits so well with the music simply because of the contrast. The story tells one thing yet has nothing to back it up while the music is right there, something we can hear and judge on our own.

The album ends with “The Lord Is Out Of Control”, a synthetic, robotic voice crooning over almost church-like organ pads and gentle arpeggiated guitars. It fades with a metallic shriek, though not unpleasant.

I can’t really tell you what my expectations were when I received this album. What I can say is that when I sat down with it to give it my full attention, I went through the album twice without realizing it. I simply sat back and listened. I let each track wash over me and tell me what it needed to say. And that is, what I feel, the most appropriate way to enjoy this album. No cares, no concerns, just time allocated for pure enjoyment.

The Final Word: There has been talk of how Rave Tapes is a more restrained and electronic-emphasized Mogwai. I can understand the latter but I think the former is off. These songs are brimming over with emotion and they each tell a tale. You just have to choose to hear them.


 
  • scaryjim

    Nice review. My favourite album has always been CODY. It came along at just the right time in my life for it to be really affecting to me. I’d just finished studying music but had no current band after years of school/college I suddenly went from having a ready made social pool to working a terrible security job 12 hr shifts an hr from home, barely seeing anyone. That album became the soundtrack to my journeys and what eventually got me back to playing with a band. With that in mind it’s been impossible for them to meet my expectations since. Not just because of the music but because ultimately I’m not the same person I was when I listened to CODY’s effortless, minimal take on isolation. I managed to enjoy Rock action and happy songs to a lesser extent but every album since for me HAD sounded worse, not until the fantastic Les Revenants soundtrack did my excitement for them stir again. I’m pretty pleased with Rave tapes, there’s a power in Mogwais best riffs that’s completely confident and reverential and ‘No medicine for Regret’ nails it. I’ve had a big change in my life that again sees me isolated from friends and family and feeling introspective and I can’t help but think it’s partly my mood that manages to really tune into Mogwai when I’m feeling down. The best thing about Rave tapes is that I’ve started to relisten to Beast/hawk and hardcore and started to discover things I like. Also that Zidane soundtrack is awe inspiring.