Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mogwai - Rave Tapes (2014)

I can tell when I like something or do not like something, but I often find it very difficult to explain why or give any plausible reasons. With Mogwai's most recent album, Rave Tapes, I can mostly say I like it. It is good, it is very Mogwai but at the same time with a little different sound. There are some very good tracks that I would definitely listen to on their own, and some that are good when I listen to the whole album from the beginning to the end. And there is one track that I would rather not listen to, but frequently still end up doing so when I am too far from my laptop to skip the song.

I am only familiar with Mogwai since 2011, it was the year they released their seventh studio album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. A brilliant album name in my opinion, but that is beside the point at the moment. It is often that I am taken to a band after seeing a video of theirs, and I distinctly remember stumbling on the video for How to Be a Werewolf on Youtube.

After listening to the track several times in a row, I had to listen to the whole album, and then I had to listen to their whole discography. I can say that they have accomplished some great things over the years, but since Hardcore Will Never Die was the album that I introduced them to myself with, it will most likely remain my favourite.

I suppose Rave Tapes is an album that sounds a little darker than the previous one, and inclines more towards electronics than before. At the same time, they have maintained their essence which is sadly very difficult for me to describe, perhaps everyone just needs to listen for themselves to get an idea of it. Their songs are mostly instrumental, and I think Mogwai will always be one of those bands that I expect to sound more or less distinctly the same with each new album they release. I understand that many expect new directions or find the current one in need for improvement, but I do not. To talk about genres, they could be considered post-rock, but to me there is no need to limit them (or any other band for that matter) with the labels or genres, for in the end the only genre they need is simply Mogwai.

Plainly, Rave Tapes is nearly 50 minutes worth of good things. The album starts off with Heard About You Last Night, a melodic and a little teasing track as it hints that it might build up to something louder, but ends up more mellow and rudimentary. This is followed by Simon Ferocious, sounding maybe the tiniest bit more upbeat to me than the rest of the album, and reminding me of Rano Pano from their previous record. Listening to Simon Ferocious repeatedly, you can hear the fascinating guitar work among all the other little details. The different dimensions throughout the whole album are something that might get easily lost through poor laptop speakers, so here is a hint to try earphones or some finer speakers. You will be rewarded.

Then comes Remurdered, it is pretty excellent but did not become my absolute favourite. Somewhere in the middle of the track, the listener is suddenly thrown into a final battle of an old school video game (not that I know anything about video games, but I could not help but think of Wolfenstein 3D for some odd reason). The title would be very fitting in this case. Yet, the power this track contains is probably what the rest of the album is lacking in. Next up, Hexon Bogon is not much to talk about, because Repelish after that is a lot to talk about. It has sampled a reproduction of the broadcast about how there are satanic messages hidden in Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven when played in reverse. It is difficult to say what Mogwai's message with this is, but the mere accent and voice of him are enough to make it my least favourite track on the album. And perhaps my least favourite out of all their songs, which is a shame since the track behind it is promising. I get they are being sarcastic but this tune interrupts the flow of the record and will probably get unticked on my music player. But hey, provoking your fans must be a fun thing to do.

Master Card has some enjoyable repetition that is very typical of them, and Deesh sounds relatively dark. The latter would be good soundtrack material but that also applies for most of their work. Recording a soundtrack was actually what they did in between Hardcore Will Never Die and Rave Tapes, producing the music for the French TV show Les Revenants. The whole thing sounds quite introverted, if music can even be called that, and interestingly enough it is a pretty good soundtrack for a creepy night alone.

Blues hour is the only track with actual lyrics on the whole album. It is slow and melancholy, as the title hints. The piano is a nice touch in my opinion, although it makes the song's sound the least familiar. No Medicine for Regret is again, good, but The Lord Is Out of Control is the best thing on the whole album. It is slow, powerful, and takes you to a nice place. I also appreciate when great songs have beautiful videos, and could not have thought of a better way to wrap up Rave Tapes.

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