Placement is everything. While the members of Mogwai might be spread across the continent, ‘Rave Tapes’ was rehearsed under a railway arch in Glasgow’s once-notorious Gorbals patch. Trite but true: there’s an appropriate rawness to the sound, a muscularity that befits the one-time home of legendary boxer Benny Lynch.
Throwing some electronics into the mix, track two on this eighth studio LP ‘Simon Ferocious’ is a languid, growling beast. Later, ‘Hexon Bogon’ is savage, the abrupt sound of Mogwai slamming a door into your face.
‘Master Card’ has a jagged, Fugazi-inspired rhythmic kick, while ‘Remurdered’ (below) – as ever, these are song titles to etch in your school jotter – is post-rock Kraftwerk, the sound of passengers being mowed down on the ‘Autobahn’. It’s just like GTA, kids, but strictly Teutonic.
Sure, Mogwai aren’t exactly reinventing themselves here: it’s over 15 years since the band’s 1997 debut LP ‘Young Team’ erupted out of Caledonia, and these are older, occasionally wiser men. Yet, taken as a piece, as a work unto itself, ‘Rave Tapes’ is undoubtedly one of Mogwai’s strongest, most complete statements; ebbing and flowing with rare security, its more orchestral passages quickly giving way to near-hardcore brevity.
Continually surprising to the last, final cut ‘The Lord Is Out Of Control’ is a vocoder hymnal, the sound of Mogwai gleefully running down Daft Punk’s batteries and shoving them in the Clyde.
An apt step forward, ‘Rave Tapes’ finds its makers matching grace and irreverence, noise and beauty with the don’t-give-a-f*ck bravado of people who can only know better.
Words: Robin Murray
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