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Mogwai – Rave Tapes

Beki Kidwell


Mogwai are probably the most perfect ‘soundtrack’ band to derive from the UK in the last decade. Originally from Scotland, this five piece seem to ignite audiences’ passion for instrumental music more triumphantly with each new release.

Though we live in a culture of sing-alongs and repetitive lyrics, Mogwai hardly ever use vocals in their songs (Blues Hour and Repelish prove the exception in Rave Tapes) – giving them a proven leg-up in the world of live instrumentals.

Rave Tapes – their eighth studio album – does exactly what it says on the tin. Though they are well-known among fans as heavy, almost industrial style instrumental musicians, Mogwai’s experimentation with rave music blends in easily amongst the more familiar throbbing of the bass drum and electric guitar. Distorted synthesisers offer easy-to-follow melodies alongside the effect of the band’s ability to rise and grow in intensity until their listener’s eyes water from the pressure.

Heard About You Last Night and Simon Ferocious offer us repetitive, delicate beats alongside metal guitar riffs which float in the background of most tracks. The usual Mogwai sound that fans are more familiar with is only apparent in a very small number of tracks. For instance, Remurdered, Hexon Bogon and Master Card delve into their darker, more alternative roots – giving us hope that they haven’t forgotten what we love about their past sound.

Rave Tapes isn’t like anything Mogwai have written before. They seem to have developed a new sound with the help of a more modern, moving tide. Some may call this movement a much needed progression in genre, though I’m taking it as more of an experimental step in the bands’ development. Having gone so far in their exploration of rock instrumentals, why not discover how far they can go with another speciality?

The Lord is Out of Control gives off this very vibe towards the end of the album, with robotic vocals and snare drums leading repetitive synth beats, laying the foundations for a track unlike you’ve ever heard from the band.

Rave Tapes gives me the impression that each song should fit perfectly together. The end of every track could easily synchronise with the beginning of the next, giving the album a feeling of ambience; and though I am gradually coming around to the idea of a different sound for the band, my initial impression was mixed.

So my advice is to give this album a few chances to win you over – soon you may find yourself as taken with it as you are with their past work.