Mogwai - Rave Tapes - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mogwai - Rave Tapes

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2014-01-20

Rave Tapes follows on from last year’s spectral soundtrack to Twin Peaks-influenced French drama, Les Revenants (The Returned). There are shades of Les Revenants’ xylophone-led theme in the opening moments of the album’s first track, ‘Heard About You Last Night’. The track proceeds to open up into a widescreen, starry-eyed epic; both melancholic and hopeful. This leads into ‘Simon Ferocious’; a motorik, synth-led piece with some spiralling, psychedelic guitars to boot.

As with every Mogwai release, the tracks' subtleties can take a few listens to really reveal themselves, but when they do you’re left bewitched.  This is music whose magic creeps up on you, catching you unawares in the aisle of the local supermarket as you walk around with your headphones in place.  The fact that Mogwai have been making music this special for over 15 years only makes the achievement that more impressive.

‘Remurdered’ is imbued with a kind of sinister majesty and a tension derived from the almost ticking-clock feel of the percussion. The synths could have been pulled from some great lost John Carpenter soundtrack and the whole thing builds to a heart-racing conclusion. ‘Hexon Bogon’ almost acts as a stop-gap between two of the album's most impressive pieces.

‘Replenish’ retains a vitality and steady sense of urgency which sits at the heart of many of Mogwai’s finest moments. The track features a spoken-word evocation of all those backwards messages on Led Zeppelin records, calmly informing us; “Satan, we gotta live for Satan”.  It’s as captivating as anything the band have released and sits proudly at the centre of the album. ‘Mastercard’ leads with a jagged, post-punk guitar riff, while ‘Deesh’ deals in soaring electronica soundscapes. These tracks are far from weak yet pale in comparison to the majestic beauty of the next piece, ‘Blues Hour’.

‘Blues Hour’ stands out as something very special indeed. A skeletal piano motif and washes of ambient sound are complimented perfectly by one of those rare vocal performances by Stuart Braithwaite. There’s a deep-seated melancholy to the track as Braithwaite calmly intones: “Train lines, going nowhere, no destination found”. As with all Mogwai tracks of this ilk, there’s still a sense of hope as the track ebbs and flows through its six glorious minutes.

The synth-led melancholy of ‘No Medicine for Regret’ leads effortlessly into the sublime closing piece, ‘The Lord is Out of Control’. After repeat listens this deceptively simple, uncluttered composition becomes the emotional heart of the LP. In the end, this is Mogwai’s greatest achievement; they still manage to make music infused with mystery and an emotional core that keeps you keenly pressed up against the speakers.  For a band who released their debut LP in 1997, Mogwai never fail to sound inspired.

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