Mogwai – Rave Tapes (2014)

Already a post-rock institution, almost no one dares to criticize this Scottish band anymore. Mogwai could release a three-second throwaway and it would be praised as a masterpiece. Now, three years since they released Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will — an incoherent, rather tepid affair — they return with Rave Tapes.

Due January 21, 2014, the album finds Mogwi making a much-needed return to the sound of their hey day, even while adding new wrinkles. Overall, they put more emphasis on softer layouts with an electronic touch. Rave Tapes begins with a slow-burning wavelength of ambient and electronica, then puts some jazz-rock grooves into play.

A certain kind of mysticism gathers around “Repelish” and, in the middle of this stylistic exploration, there’s a narrator’s speech about Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” — focusing on this as the most popular song in rock history, then mentioning how subliminal satanic messages were immortalized by playing backwards on records at the time. In “Hexon Bogon,” the guitars are bright and shiny — a true delight for every post-rock admirer.

Along the way, Mogwi has created an impressive procession of thumping drums and bass, amd distorted drone-sounds combined with light guitar play and airy synth sounds. That makes Rave Tapes probably Mogwi’s most accessible album since Rock Action, even while bringing in futuristic-sounding elements. It’s paired with almost non-existent singing, sometimes nothing more than a whisper. But Mogwai has such control that it all works. This is a pleasure of an album, and one can only hope that this becomes the roadmap ahead for Mogwai.

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Mike Dostert

Luxembourg resident Mike Dostert has written about music for more than two decades, with work appearing in a local newspaper, via his own independent music magazine and at the web sites www.music-brain.com and lux-culture.jimdo.com. He has also worked for 20 years as a DJ and radio host. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.