Mogwai – Rave Tapes

written by: January 5, 2014
Album-Art-for-Rave-Tapes-by-Mogwai Release Date: January 21, 2014


It’s difficult for most people to appreciate a band that is still committed to churning out albums that feature mostly instrumental songs. These days, it seems artists who rely on synthesizers to boost their voices and create three-minute (or less), cheesy pop songs dominate the collective attention span.

Therefore, Mogwai’s forthcoming album, Rave Tapes, is a welcome break. It is an elegant, guitar-led instrumental album that is haunting and smooth, and at its best throws out a few pleasant surprises.

The first song, “Heard About You Last Night,” starts off with a voice moaning or chanting something incoherent. Then the song rolls out with the ringing of a snowy, fuzzy electronic bell followed by classic guitars.

This seasoned, post-rock band from Scotland isn’t creating anything particularly new or groundbreaking. Rave Tapes gives listeners more of what they’ve already heard: Guitar solos and synthesizers sounding off hand in hand. That’s not to say the music is bad; it’s just not often surprising.

Most of the songs are not hard on the ears; they aren’t loud or explosive. But Mogwai continues to be dynamic by shifting its tunes in interesting ways.

In “Remurdered,” the song starts with the clock ticking, but it’s not long before the track transforms completely. It starts off slow, with the synth playing back and forth, and then rest of band chipping in. The tune starts to pick up pace a few minutes in, and suddenly, all the instruments roll out, producing a noisy, guitar-driven, and thumping  soft techno mash-up.

On “Repelish,” Mogwai pulls a MacGyver, with random, but pleasant surprises pulled out of a hat.

“Repelish” and “Blues Hour” are the only tracks with vocals, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to singing. “Repelish” instead provides a commentary about Led Zeppelin’s famous song “Stairway to Heaven.”

It’s so amusing that it will throw listeners off.  For a moment, it feels like an annoying Spotify ad just popped up, as a man observes, “Further in the tape, I came across another part that made me throw my headphones right off my head.” At the end, he asks listeners, “‘Cause they have a choice to make, what about you, what do you choose?”

Mogwai might be past its prime, and its post-rock work no longer grabs attention in this hyper age of small attention spans. Warning: This album is not for the masses, but that’s what makes Rave Tapes an awesome, stunning album to cherish. It takes patience to truly enjoy the band’s craftsmanship and the many details that make this album incredible to listen to.

Mogwai – Rave Tapes tracklist:

  1. “Heard About You Last Night”
  2. “Simon Ferocious”
  3. “Remurdered”
  4. “Hexon Bogon”
  5. “Repelish”
  6. “Mastercard”
  7. “Deesh”
  8. “Blues Hour”
  9. “No Medicine for Regret”
  10. “The Lord is Out of Control”