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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Mogwai - Rave Tapes box set

Mogwai have been a noticeable omission from my record collection for a long time. I own a lot of their albums, but have never managed to get round to buying any vinyl. I still can't fully explain this (and since I am currently eyeing up a copy of Rock Action, the picture could change even more quite soon) but this has now been rectified. And how.

When the band's new album was announced, there were some details of a box set. I gave it a quick check, wasn't excessively excited about it. Then Avalanche put it up in the webstore for £56 and I thought it was a little expensive. Then I bought it anyway. Sometimes I don't get how my brain works either.

Before I start I'd like to say that I definitely don't regret doing this, in fact on balance it was a pretty good call. Long-time unintentional contributor to (and, incredibly, some-time reader of) this blog DLT has absolutely smashed it out of the park yet again. I'll probably repeat this at the end, but this is a thing of beauty. Also as fair warning: there are a lot of (slightly bad) photos. A lot.

The box itself then, and I'm already happy. A lovely geometric design so we're onto a winner. Expect to see that font a lot throughout the rest of the post.

This is what greets us upon opening it. A hot pink interior, as all boxes should really have as a minimum requirement, and a big pile of stuff. On top is a download code for everything, so that of course makes me love Rock Action a little bit. Let's also just take a quick moment to notice how consistent the colour scheme of this box is and celebrate that there are people out there who are as appreciative of consistency as I am.

The font from the outside of the box? Tick. Lovely geometric pattern? Tick. Adam silhouette in the reflection of the shiny, shiny sleeve? Big tick. This is the first bit of vinyl in the box, a one-sided 7" featuring a non-album track called Tell Everybody That I Love Them. Aw Mogwai, I love you too. It's a lovely song as well, slow-paced but pleasantly upbeat. Why is it one-sided though, I hear you ask? Well.

Our boy is at it again, another absolutely beautiful etched B-side. This is more like the album art itself (which we will see a lot more of later on) but not quite. I do love an etched B-side.

More nice geometric artwork, more Adam silhouette, more vinyl. Dunno why this photo is absolutely abysmal. My bad. Seeing as there's absolutely nothing to scale it against, it may surprise you to hear that this is actually a 12", featuring two more non-album tracks. Both of these (Bad Magician 3 and Die 1 Dislike!) are pretty good, but have slipped under my radar a little bit until now. Whoops!

Of course it's pink. Of course the labels match the artwork. Of course. It's like they're going out of their way to make me happy.

Next up? Three lovely art prints. Colours, geometry etc. I'd love to get some nice frames for these but that is very much a long-term goal.

There's a lot in this box, you know? This is a 12 inch photobook, with a snazzy embossed cover. It's not very exciting for me in all honesty, but it's nicely put together and was pleasant enough to leaf through so I can't complain.

Here's an example photograph from in the book. I have chosen this specifically, because reading closely you notice there was a song that was (or used to be) called "Shaun Ryder Prison". I'd quite like to know which song that is so it can become my favourite track ever on title alone.

After all this time, here's our first glimpse at the actual album art! Sorry it's taken so long. It's unsurprisingly brilliant. It fits the album title absolutely perfectly - which, as it happens, fits the music pretty well too. More on that later. This is the CD version, not that you can tell from the photo.

What is actually very cool about this is the front of the gatefold is die-cut, and there are a couple of different patterned sheets inside so you can choose your own weird eye. Slightly interactive artwork? I'm down with that.

We couldn't have an album called Rave Tapes without a cassette version now could we? Much as I am opposed to cassettes as a thing in 2014, this one gets a bye.

It happens to look great as well. More pink. More nice detailing. The attention to detail in this box is really quite impressive.

Finally, we have a third copy of the album - this one actually on vinyl! Hooray. The artwork looks even nicer in a larger format.

Another nice touch here - the inner sleeve for the record again pokes through the die-cut outer and gives you a choice of freaky central eye pattern.

Plain black vinyl - but I think we'll let them get away with it this time. Again the labels match everything else in their design and colour because by this point that kind of goes without saying.

Right, after all those photos let's actually talk about the album. There was a bit of internet fuss shortly after this came out due to the relatively heavy use of electronics on this album. This should only serve to show you that the internet is dumb sometimes. This album is brilliant, I mean it's Mogwai after all. The album hums and throbs deliciously through ten tracks - the pick of which for me is the distorted Simon Ferocious, though The Lord Is Out Of Control rounds off the album beautifully. It's the kind of album you can lose yourself in. The kind of album to sit down and listen to with a cup of tea and no distractions, which I'm sure you'll agree is a pretty good thing.

So to conclude? I take bad photos, this box set is amazing, this album is wonderful. Job done!