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What happens when a notable ’90s post-rock band gets in a head-on collision with a pile of synthesizers, you ask? The album Rave Tapes, by Scottish mainstays Mogwai.

The first release by the group since 2011’s Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will, Rave Tapes is a study of the same quiet-loud contrast that has popularized them, and made infamous their devastating live performances. Complete with vocoder vocals, rich melodic arpeggios, and cryptic song titles, one can say Mogwai is treading water in the same artistic pool, this time adding synths for the kids.

Krautrock influences are representative throughout, emerging on tracks “Remurdered” and “Deesh.” “Repelish,” with its spoken-word vocal sample urging both Zeppelin and Satan worship, is a pleasant, audibly clean piece that encapsulates the band’s tongue-in-cheek attitude. Closing out the set is “The Lord Is Out of Control,” which teeters on the edge of being out of control itself, with driving organ playing foil to rigid rhythm, the song meanders on, like a Scottish funeral dirge. Something of beauty.

This collection is a reminder that revisiting old themes, while risking redundancy, is sometimes crucial to survival. Navigating the changing tastes and time, mostly without words, major hits, or having to make a dance album. That's admirable.

  • Album: Rave Tapes
  • Artist: Mogwai
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • Songs: (1) Heard About You Last Night (2) Simon Ferocious (3) Remurdered (4) Hexon Bogon (5) Repelish (6) Master Card (7) Deesh (8) Blues Hour (9) No Medicine For Regret (10) The Lord Is Out of Control
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