Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hymn to the Immortal Wind - Mono
(#4, 2009)

I've covered Tokyo's Mono here quite a bit in the short history, primarily because they are practically flawless. Now flawlessness might not be what you're looking for in music, but it's a rare quality indeed. Up until now, You Are There (#5, 2006) has been accorded
"best Mono album" honors, and it's terrific. But I think that might change going forward...

"Ashes in the Snow" from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

This year's offering is a grand 2xLP package, with a very nice set of painting/prose inserts that complements each song's cinematic sweep. The lead-off song, "Ashes in the Snow" [live], opens with a quiet storm of noise distortion and delicate xylophone before the lyrical, entwining guitars begin the long journey. This album also boasts the largest orchestra set-up they've used, and they employ it to maximum emotional effect. As with most of their tunes, quiet sections evoke sadness, loneliness, and the snow-muted calm of winter. Those parts then burst into explosions of bombast and guitar volume. Other than the improved/expanded use of strings, the main technical achievement here is that all the abrupt edges have been smoothed down. Everything flows even more songlike than ever before. I won't go on about each song's quiet/loud, sad/outburst dynamics. Each song flows differently despite structural similarities, just consider it a given.

Like in the second track, "Burial at Sea," which takes a long march of swells and retreats before the battery really commences. "Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn" provides a relatively shorter, subdued break in the action.

"Pure as Snow" from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

When I saw Mono earlier this year, "Pure As Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)" was one of the unexpected standouts. It had never especially grabbed my attention, but the live version has really made it one of my favorites here. Then, there's the very short (for Mono) highlight track, "Follow the Map." I assume it's the highlight track because there's an official video for it.

And the album ends with two more excellent epics of instrumental post-rock finesse, "The Battle to Heaven" [live] and "Everlasting Light."

"Everlasting Light" from Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009)

So, fantastic album... #4 of the whole year, in my estimation. Not much time for the top 3, so I'd better get cracking. I heartily recommend this one, Mono's previous few albums, seeing them live, and so forth!

Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - Temporary Residence Ltd.
iTunes - Mono

Genre - Cinematic Heartstring Post-Rock
Location - Tokyo, Japan
Review - The Antiquiet

No comments: