Twenty years into their career, Scottish five-piece Mogwai have become masters at tugging heart strings and manipulating emotions with nothing more than a single chord change or well-timed drum hit. They’ve experimented with sprawl in all its forms, from film soundtracks to droning, 30-minute song lengths, but on Rave Tapes they compress their emotional power and enthusiasm into tight, five-minute pieces.
There’s “Hexon Bogon,” which junks the buildup you’d expect from a Mogwai song and gets its work done in a mere two-and-a-half minutes, chunky riff bleeding into shimmering feedback and speckled with cymbal splashes. It’s short, but it never feels slight. And then there’s “Repelish,” which features a dude speaking very sincerely about the hidden satanic messages in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” In the background, Mogwai work a tight groove on repeat. Without the goofy spoken-word bit, it’d be a good mid-album transitional track, but with it, it’s a screwy ode to the magical, transportive power that music can have.