Rave Tapes

Written by: LF on 16/12/2014 18:00:54

Now this is an album that has taken a long time to get down in words for me. It was released back in January and the main reason why I'm bothering to write about it now is because it's simply so damn good that it really deserves a place in our archive of reviews. It is the eighth full-length from the Scottish post-rockers Mogwai and while it's called "Rave Tapes" and classifies partially as electronic music, it's definitely still relevant for fans of highly atmospheric, instrumental rock music as the five men of the band cover both drums, bass and several guitars next to their synthesizers and keyboards.

"Rave Tapes" is an album where every song stands apart from the others while still keeping to an overall recognizable vibe. It has an incredibly rich sound that makes the music almost physically tangible, transforming any place it is played in as it is overlaid with Mogwai's parallel reality. We are eased into this world through the ethereal and echo-filled "Heard About You Last Night" where soft synth-bells echo and fuse with calm guitar riffs throughout. Things rapidly escalate over the next couple of tracks however, as "Simon Ferocious" begins ripping everything apart with frantic guitars in the most subtle way. It doesn't explode with energy but rather builds tension as the guitars are kept in check through a steadily advancing rhythm section and the firm grip of other, deeper riffs more in the foreground. At the end of this constant building of unreleased tension, the impeccable "Remurdered" makes its entrance. As one of the most energetic tunes on the album and the one most obviously connected to the "Rave Tapes" title, it builds and builds through a bouncy but underplayed riff before taking everything to the next level about halfway through where the riff seems to finally burst through and in the process transform itself to an incredibly insisting, almost threatening entity, helped greatly on the way by a deep, buzzing bass.

"Repelish" stands out in the middle of the album as it centers its riffs and melodies around a reproduction of an 80's broadcast by the evangelist Michael Mills where he discusses how Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" communicates a satanic message when played backwards. For me this immediately recalls Mogwai's older song "Mogwai Fear Satan" even as the rerecording of the broadcast on "Repelish" is so devoid of any kind of zeal or conviction that it sounds like a daring mocking of the entire subject matter. It features as a curious sort of interlude on the album as it's the only song including any kind of clearly understandable vocal performance. Here the instruments aren't just a backdrop for the speaker as much as the words spoken add another dimension to the heavy-set, sort of ominous feel the album generally has.

The more obvious contenders for more traditionally guitar-dominated songs would be "Hexon Bogon" and "Master Card", but even as every song exists in its own right on the album, some songs come across more strongly than others. Songs like "The Lord Is Out Of Control", "Repelish", "No Medicine For Regret", and obviously "Remurdered" (which is by now one of my favorite tunes of 2014) each have a slightly stronger impact than the other songs but that doesn't mean they are the only ones worth listening to. This is one of those albums that I always listen to from start to finish whenever I put it on since every song contributes something to the whole that would be missing if I only stuck to the aforementioned tracks. When you have time to let yourself be swept along through the motions of the entire thing the album is a very rewarding listen and I doubt that I'll ever get tired of listening to it. I can only encourage anyone who's a fan of being consumed by all-encompassing, imaginative sounds to listen to this record and check the band out live as well, as the layered soundscapes are even more intense when played loud and coupled with a focused light show.


Download: Remurdered, The Lord Is Out Of Control, No Medicine For Regret, Repelish
For The Fans Of: God Is An Astronaut, 65daysofstatic, Maybeshewill, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Release date 20.01.2014
Rock Action Records

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