Having recently branded their own whiskey (at a blackout inducing 57%) Mogwai are showing no signs of being predictable. Over the course of their career they’ve become known as one of the front runners in post rock yet Mogwai’s eighth studio album ‘Rave Tapes’ shows that they are still not conforming to stereotype.
Mogwai have more or less ditched the ferocious roaring guitar sounds of early albums ‘Mogwai Young Team’ and ‘Come On Die Young’ in favour of more electronic elements. Opening track Heard About You Last Night feels at once relaxing and mysterious with the plinking keys taking the lead. Mogwai’s last album was the soundtrack for French TV shows Les Revenants; Heard About You Last Night feels like a continuation from the score they created for it. Remurdered continues to show the more electronic side of the band while the dissonant guitars haven’t completely vanished and resurface on Hexon Bogon albeit with some heavy effects in tandem.
Elsewhere Mogwai use samples on Repelish (where a Christian zealot expounds about subliminal messages in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven), heavily vocorded vocals on The Lord Is Out Of Control and Stuart Braithwaite does lead vocals on Blues Hour. There are numerous highlights throughout the album, but arguably Deesh stands out above the rest. Its percussion sounds like the slowed down incoming whoop of helicopter blades, reminiscent of the intro from Apocalypse Now.
At this juncture in their career, Mogwai are as adept at making movie and TV scores as they are at making albums that push their own boundaries. ‘Rave Tapes’ is the sum of the minor changes in their sound they have made throughout their career. When viewed from where they first started, it feels like a radical shift. This is easily the best album they have made in years and if this to be your entry to Mogwai, there is hardly a better way to get to know the band.