Friday, November 20, 2009

You Are There - Mono (#5, 2006)

Mono is a Japanese post-rock quartet, who play instrumental guitar music with an emotional tone and a soundtrack sound. Typically, a sad and slow section will build and explode into a louder and more distorted section, then then the cycle repeats. Strangely, their last few albums have been produced by Steve Albini. Not so strangely, the last couple have been recorded with small orchestras.

"The Flames Beyond The Cold Mountain" from You Are There (2006) [part 2]

I really dig Mono, and this (their fourth or fifth) is clearly one of the best - mostly considered the zenith of Mono-ness. I can't improve on this detailed write-up of the album, so I won't try. At times wintry and mournful, at times boiling over with heat and passion. That's Mono.

The songs are sequenced like a message in Morse code: long-short-long long-short-long. The short songs are quiet and lyrical. The long songs are quiet and lyrical, until they start gradually building up the intensity, then they ungradually break into loud and noisy, somehow working back to the quietude, until they settle back down to repeat, or end.

The first song is illustrated on the cover (below, live version embedded atop). The guitar interplay here seems more organic, especially during the gradual builds. The third song, "Yearning," is probably the most fully-formed and still a live staple. The quiet part sounds hesitant and spare, but when the noise churns up a head of steam, the drums break over the top, accentuating the chaos. I believe it may be Mono's most rifftastic song ever!

"Are You There?" Almost a title track, the strings feature more prominently here. It never brings the full-bore noise attack, staying relatively subdued throughout. Then a piano ballad? From Mono? Yes. And the message ends with "Moonlight," the most ethereal of the four epics. The distinct sound comes from even more symphonics, even more-reverbed tremolo-picking, and occasionally jazzy, swingin' drums. By Mono standards...

But the cycle must be completed, so there is one final crescendo before a long winter's nap.

You Are There
Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Temporary Residence Ltd.
iTunes - Mono

Genre - Cinematic Heartstring Post-Rock
Review - Pop Matters

No comments: