Published Jan 14, 2014Scottish post-rock ambassadors Mogwai have always had a pretty cinematic sound. Ever since the release of their debut LP, Young Team, in 1997, the band's brand of instrumental chaos has graced the soundtracks of skateboard videos, movies and even a few television shows, including Les Revenants, a French horror program the band scored in 2012.
Which is why for their newest album — and second for Sub Pop — the Scottish quintet pushed their silver screen sound further than ever before, evoking the analog experimentations of John Carpenter and the horror masters before him to create a menacing set of minimalist electronic numbers. Arriving January 21, the album's called Rave Tapes, and you can already stream it here on Exclaim.ca.
Following the release of 2011's Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the band kept pretty quiet in 2012, releasing a remix compilation of their previous album and focusing on soundtrack work for Les Revenants. But after its hard copy release in February 2013, the band were quickly booked on a mini-tour across the UK, in which the group performed their 2006 soundtrack to Euro-centric soccer flick Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait in full, leaving little time to prepare for a new LP.
"We were possibly a little less prepared than we had planned to be," guitarist/multi-instrumentalist John Cummings tells Exclaim! "I suppose it's just one of those things. You're never quite ready to finish and never quite ready to start. You just have to book the date."
But according to Cummings, all that changed when the band's Barry Burns returned home from his recent stint living in Berlin. Armed with an analog modular synthesizer, the band began experimenting with the new device, leading to a less "guitar-oriented" sound than previous recordings — one that was at least in part inspired by Carpenter and a certain UK label's recent horror reissues.
"I've been getting those reissues that have been coming out through Death Waltz," says Cummings. "It's kind of funny to be buying a record, and there's three or four different versions of one piece of music and it's $25, or something."
Making sure fans got bang for their buck, the band re-teamed with producer Phil Savage (Young Team, Hardcore Will Never Die) at Mogwai's Castle of Doom Studios in August, where the band's synthesizer fixation lead to even more analog experimentation, resulting in bassist Dominic Aitchison moving from bass guitar towards a Novation Bass Station II and drummer Martin Bulloch to electronic programming.
Now all they have to do is figure out how to perform the songs in concert.
"At the moment we're just worried about having to learn how to play these songs live," Cummings said. "That's one of the technical problems that we're trying to deal with, because we don't have any presets or anything."
He jokes, "It only took a year to record it."
You can catch the band live this spring during their North American tour, and for now, stream Rave Tapes here. Also pre-order the album, which is available as a fancy deluxe box, here.