The group’s sophomore effort for Sub Pop goes deep into sonic space.

Mogwai
Rave Tapes
Sub Pop

Mogwai’s second album on Sub Pop, Rave Tapes, starts out on a slow-burning wavelength of ambient electronica, eventually building to Bill Frisell-esque jazz-rock grooves. A mystique broods around the namesake, and midway through the stylistic exploration on “Repelish,” a narrator talks about Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” being the most popular song in rock history, but there isn’t any overt sonic implication. The narrator then mentions how subliminal satanic messages were put on records in reverse while a decidedly unsatanic melody moves in and out.

The guitar spotlight shines brightest in “Hexon Bogon” with its exploding delay, and the next few tracks are an impressive procession of thumping percussion and distorted bass drones illuminated with bright solos and jabbing synthesizers. Mogwai certainly knows space well and has been successful with scoring, and this conjures feelings of flying or perhaps being embroiled in an epic action sequence of a video game.

These nuanced instrumental compositions would be perfectly at home with lyrics, their solid foundations topped with pleasingly funky layers, à la Tool or Radiohead. A few vocals are present, but the sense of their purpose is yet unclear. I might have to find Rave Tapes on vinyl, play it backwards, and see what happens.

Must-hear track: “Hexon Bogon”

Switching between contrasting reverb voices doubles the fun.

Smart, versatile, interactive and rangeful controls. Intuitive. Capable of great contrasts between A/B presets. Sturdy enclosure. Effective damping controls tame twee high-octave overtones.

Can’t switch reverb voices as you switch presets. Enclosure is big relative to depth of functionality. No-fun styling.

$229

Fender Dual Marine Layer
fender.com

4
4
4.5
4

Fender and reverb go together like gumbo and rice. Historically, the spring tanks in the company’s amplifiers and tube-driven outboard units have defined the Fender reverb sound. But in 2018, when Fender released the Marine Layer digital reverb, it did not include a spring reverb emulation. The new Dual Marine Layer doesn’t have a spring emulation either. Instead, it’s brimming with sounds and functions well-suited for less retro-reverb expressions, including thick chorus textures and shimmer reverb, and has a soft-relay sustain switch that enables momentary creation of ambient beds. It’s also capable of some very classy, subdued reverb colors, plus a few that can effectively stand in for spring and plate sounds in a pinch.

Read More Show less

PRS Guitars and John Mayer officially announce the PRS SE Silver Sky, an affordable version of the original with PRS trademark bird inlays and three single-coil pickups.

Read More Show less
x