The 28th October 2013 was a good day. Mogwai premiered Remurdered, a track from their eighth studio album, on Soundcloud. If it were on a eastern European grindhouse movie soundtrack it would sound menacing. By the end of the track you feel like you have been plunged into in a dungeon equipped for your own “seppuku.” But you want to be there. You want to stay. You want to wait, to hold out for what comes next.
Rave Tapes sounds like a band honing rather than overhauling what they do. With surges and soars, ebbs and flows, it has fewer of the schizophrenic jumps which characterized their previous work on the Young Team or CODY albums. Rave Tapes comes on gradually. Heard About You Last Night the somnambulant opener feels like it should have been on Les Revenants, the haunting music which Mogwai wrote for the critically acclaimed French zombie series. You’re soon firmly in the land of the living. If the electronic interjections in Simon Ferocious sound overbearing, this might be because it is also happens to be the name which Freddie Mercury imperiously gave to Sid Vicious when he bumped into him in the studio in 1977.
What Mogwai continue to do well is to make opposing musical forces work. Repelish offers up a sweet melody set against someone complaining about hidden satanic messages in Led Zeppelin records. No Medicine For Regret takes a beautiful little keyboard figure and tosses it into the middle of a storm of scourging guitar noise. The Lord is Out of Control the hymn like closing track is very moving and bordering on ethereal.
By the end of the album you will find that the Scottish post-rock quintet has created an immersive microclimate to fill your head space, and it lingers too. Ultimately, Rave Tapes is another great Mogwai album.
Rave Tapes will be released on CD, LP and DL on January 20, 2014, on Rock Action (UK and Europe) and Sub Pop (North America).