MOGWAI. Rave Tapes.
Oh, how good would this be if it was actually a 90 minute handwritten TDK of Mogwai doing a cover of Altern 8's “Full On Mask Hysteria” with some random remixes on the flip side?
(OK, maybe not)
How what was a fixture of culture barely 20 years ago is now an ancient museum piece? A dead format. The home made cassette of rave 12”s designed for consumption in your kitchen tape deck? This is by no means a conservative, nostalgic look back. Building on last years “Les Revenants” soundtrack, here we have Mogwai's latest, and one that is for my ears, the most immediate and best thing they have done in a very long time.
How “Rave Tapes” is Mogwai's best record since 1999?. How I had no expectations (but a hope that it might be good), is smashed out of the water by the fact that this is a solid, powerful record, made of 49 minutes of largely instrumental mood pieces. It may be made of largely instrumental material, but each one has a sense of tension, conviction, commitment within, a sense that this is intended, and to an extent the holding back of sound is a demonstration of power in itself. The tru test of strength is knowing when not to use it. “Simon Ferecious” is the best thing the band have put their name to since “Batcat”, but here, unlike previously, Mogwai seem to nail the moment of creating a spellbinding mood that flows effortlessly from one to another, alongside a boatload of instrumental motifs, in the case of “Remurdered” resemble the soundtrack to an imaginary crime thriller that only exists in my head. Before “Remurdered” has time to breathe, the album leaps into the next song, a rolling wave of sound, where even though it is, on the surface at least, moddy instrumental pieces, the band generate a form of intensity and spellweaving that creates a combined, towered effect, where each pieces builds on the back of the other. “Repelish” offers a bare break, by interweaving a sampled lecture around the Satanic possibilities of Led Zeppelin against a intricate texture of riffarama. There's no real relaxation as such, as “Mastercard” is another wall-of-noise style instrumental where guitars and rhythms build to a cacophony that is gloriously wrong and yet righteously satisfying. By the time we get to the end with “Lord Is Out of Control”, the modest song resembles a post rock cover of something nestling at the end of side 2 of The Cure's masterful “Disintegration”.
“Rave Tapes” is Mogwai's finest record in years, and my ears are richer for it.