Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shichinin mono samurai

In Japan, the guitar can be used like a knife...

Walter's on Washington
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Presented by Pegstar

Been looking forward to this show since it was announced. Mono is bringing their film-score-esque post-rock, kicking off their US tour in Houston! There will be quiet, sad-feeling passages, which explode into passionate crescendos. Songs will flow glacially, then rise in fiery triumph. Guitarists will be seated, audience members might weep openly.

[Back from show...]
They were really terrific! Don't have the energy to go into too much detail... But after the mammoth coda of "Ashes in the Snow," I turned to Mike and said I thought the bassist was going to transform into Kim Gordon. During the quiet build of a later song, he turned and said, "This would be great at Pompeii." Away from the pristine audio of Albini's studio, the live sound brought out a different side of Mono. The quiet parts were even more spare (no orchestra), with a definite Gilmour sound to some of the guitar. And the explosions were much noisier, confidently striding into Sonic Youthian territory. And sometimes noisy Floydian territory as well.

The bassist played xylophone to open "Ashes," and the drummer and a guitarist both played them later - that's a lot of xylophone! The bassist and drummer played keyboards at times. The guitarists both played Strats through Fender amps, the bassist an SG through a Sunn - it sounded good, like a real band. I think I expected a more 'perfect' sound, but I liked what I heard better. (Except for the crowd, which was lousy with jackasses...) "Pure as Snow" never stood out so much to me on Hymn to the Immortal Wind as it did live. One of the best songs they played!

They'll be ending the tour in Austin in just a few weeks, with tour opener Maserati. Hmmm...
Either way, Maserati's headlining at the Mink on the 19th!!

Hymn to the Immortal Wind
[The next day...]
I regret nothing!! Thought I was getting a cold yesterday, but was feeling totally good by showtime. Now, not so much.

Couple of more impressions: The lead guitarist sure kept that pick moving. I'd never connected it with Black Metal's favorite technique, tremolo picking. Just without the grim distortion, or lizard-demon vocals. The drummer used a sizeable variety of sticks and mallets, including some hefty sticks that sounded unique and exotic - and looked like nunchuks. They were huge, but actually sounded more delicate. The band was certainly a stoic bunch. Not that I expected a lot of joke-cracking, but beyond getting really into the playing, they remained a bit distant from the audience. I guess no mics and sitting down play a part.

Can't believe I hadn't noticed Mono live recordings at the Archive! Setlists don't seem to vary much from show to show, the NYC one in May looks about the same. That's the show on the 1st video above. (So far, the Sheffield show has the best sound of the recent ones.
"Lotta chicks though.")

Mono - LIVE!

[Houston Press 'review' placeholder moved down...]
Way more tasteful than Explosions In The Sky, far more skilled arrangers than Envy, Japanese post-whatever band Mono make remarkably heavy 11-minute suites that are less about abusing dynamics and more reveling in cinematic textures. Dainty, icy arrangements make Mono's lastest mutation, Hymn to the Immortal Wind, a delicate blend of Ennio Morricone and Isis.

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