Mogwai: Rave Tapes
(Sub Pop, 1/21/14)
If Mogwai has hidden the picturesque aspects of its sound behind a wall of emotional distance in the past, the Scottish quintet has increasingly allowed for a direct connection to the music. For several lengthy passages on Rave Tapes, the band refrains from intruding on the mood of gentle brooding that it creates via swells of mild guitar distortion. Live drums commingle seamlessly with electronic beats, and Vangelis-esque retro-futurism melds with subdued math-rock angularity in one of the band’s most technical displays to date.
Like latter-day Tortoise, Mogwai appears to be growing less concerned with post-rock gesturing and more with direct statements. Even at its most abrasive or angular, Rave Tapes captures a band no longer averse to wearing beauty on its sleeve. It’s no small feat that Mogwai has been able to “mature” without losing its penchant for novelty or its ability to challenge the audience.