With a certain standing comes freedom. The freedom to explore what else there is you might be able to try and work on. You get asked to help on projects you wouldn’t neccessiraly have gotten yourself into in the first place, you gather experiences as well as new influences and ultimately, you find a way to free yourself from the greatness of your legacy. Problem is: lots of musicians fail to do so. Therefore, it remains mysterious, which ingredients it takes for a band, to not only carry on over decades, but improving and changing without loosing path. Undoubtedly, the Scotsmen of MOGWAI are one of those few bands. And with their eighth full-length, Rave Tapes, they once again challenge their audience in a charming and rewarding way.
In fact, you can’t pin down any longer, what MOGWAI actually sound like: you’d have to take a closer look on concrete albums or projects and then step back to really get the full image of this band. There’s been times in which they started to grow into the post-rock-avantgarde (Young Team), there’s the stunningly accessable work of grooving beauty circa Rock Action, there’s the ominous mystery (The Hawk is Howling) as well as their quite functional soundtrack work (Zidane – a 21st century portrait, Les Revenants) – you might have noticed: their latest actual full-length is missing in this list. Somehow, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will left a feeling of slight alienation (despite the fact that you already had the unsure feeling of it being something great) – and this is, where Rave Tapes comes in: it pursues the development they started 2011.
As MOGWAI have become the masters of texture over their years of layering sounds, it’s remarkable how they now boldly redefine their typical wall of sound on the opener Heard About You Last Night. With its smooth ambient-mood and thin guitars it seems like the understatement version of their elder concept: adding stuff until you’re deaf. From the outstanding Remurdered with its educated synths, over heavy outbursts in Hexon Bogon, the calm beauty of Blues Hour (including the only real singing) and the superbe closer The Lord Is Out Of Control – I promise you to be highly entertained. Moreover, you’ll be thrilled to get into this mist of sound again and again. Combining AIR-ambience, Drone-menace and some of MOGWAI’s typical grim irony (“Simon Ferocious” – that’s how Freddie Mercury once called Sid Vicious), Rave Tapes all in all is a colourful and massive grower.
There might be some dissapointment for fans of the former kings of tinnitus, and yes, Rave Tapes certainly won’t make it to the top of their catalogue, but if you give it some time, it will definitely rank high. In a way, these songs made me think of MOGWAI as a band now fully acting in something like a parallel universe, in which they are not only willing but able to turn any possible genre into something of their own.
MOGWAI might still be the wise men of post-prefixes, but Rave Tapes grows beyond post-rock and openly aims for the more adventurous and focused depths of progressive music.
NBHAP Rating: 3,5/5