Published Jan 20, 2014On Mogwai's eighth studio album, Rave Tapes, the self-described guitar army have finally dialed down their six-string sound, making for a more analog-driven LP. It's a fitting title for a record that takes its name from the ecstasy-fueled counterculture and accompanying cassettes that dominated the British music scene in the early '90s.
Stepping away from the LOUD-quiet-LOUD dynamics of the band's distortion-friendly roots, Rave Tapes finds the Scottish slowcore outfit exploring their most expansive audio landscape to date, thanks in part to longtime multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns' insistence on bringing his new modular synthesizer into the recording sessions. The result is a truly cinematic recording — one that pulsates and stutters with Krautrock-evoking grooves ("Simon Ferocious"), plaintive post-rock ballads (album opener "I Heard About You Last Night") and John Carpenter-esque compositions (the Assault on Precinct 13-inspired "Remurdered").
Outside of "Hexon Bogon," "Mastercard," and album closer "The Lord is Out of Control," there aren't that many songs on the new LP that explicitly shred as hard as their previous record (2011's Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will), which is bad news for longtime fans of the group and its guitar dueling beginnings. But once adjusted to the band's change in dynamics, you're left with the distinct feeling that this is perhaps their most engrossing effort since the Young Team's debut. (Sub Pop)