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Mono - Nowhere, Now Here CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.76 | 88 ratings

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4 stars Japanese Post Rock veterans release their 10th album in 20 years and continue to demonstrate their willingness and drive to grow and evolve by offering major synthesized electronic sound washes as ample aqueous solutions in which to launch, buoy, and bathe the vehicles of their instrumental constructs. They have been kind of stumbling along, trying to grow and try new things in recent years but their efforts have not proven successful critically or in sales. Here, now, they have broken several old Mono patterns: with first lineup change ever with new drummer Dahm Majuri Cipolla, rampant and all-pervasive use of electronics (computer keyboards? or MIDI?) and Tamaki's debut vocal.

1. "God Bless" (1:44) "warped record" orchestral strings! It's all warped: "horns," too! Very cool! Like something from a David Sylvian record. (5/5)

2. "After You Comes the Flood" (5:36) dirty, raspy synths and guitars fade into this one for a long (0:56) introduction before the full band burst forth with a solid chord progression within which the familiar MONO tremolo guitar playing moves around. Drumming is very solid, bass is loud and super-chunky, guitars are insistent. A little lull at the end of the third minute allows for a second burst into full frontal brutality--this time with the right channel guitar going rogue and freaky. Awesome stuff! Gets the adrenaline pumping to hear the band firing on all cylinders again. A top three song for me. (9.5/10)

3. "Breathe" (5:24) slow low end synth "horn" chord washes open this one before the breathy "ANNE PIGALLE-like voice of Tamaki enters. Wow! This is different! And awesome! A MONO torch song! It's gorgeous if a little two-dimensional. (9/10)

4. "Nowhere, Now Here" (10:24) opens with gentle, background untreated guitar slow-picked arpeggi before solo electric guitar enters and, then bass and slow drums and "horn" synth chords. After a brief pregnant pause, the full band jumps in with great force and a great weave (with synth strings?) at 3:15. What ensues is beautiful, insistent, emotional, and powerful. At 5:05 the drums and bass start a constant quick-pulse just before a break in which the two guitars continue playing off of each other in their own repetitive styles. Bass and snare rolls reenter in the second half of the seventh minute and then kick drum. At 7:50 everything gets loosed but this is weak until the tremolos really speed up and the cymbal crashes get going. Don't like the drums' backing off as the guitars continue screaming. (17/20)

5. "Far and Further" (5:41) guitar arpeggi with heavy reverb is counterpointed by gently picking guitar and then by super chorused and two channeled guitar strums and thick bass notes. Nice weave that stays mellow until the three minute mark when bass drum and bowed instrument check in. At 3:40 the raunchy electric guitar tremolos show up as cymbals and orchestral sounds join. Never reaches fast speed or frenetic playing, but effectively conveys a mood. (8.75/10)

6. "Sorrow" (8:30) the two guitars, with their two styles, playing gently, each with more lush electronic effects that usual, before steady blues-rock drums join in until the two minute mark when a pulse of bass and wall of shifting orchestral strings chords joins in for fifty seconds pure beauty. Then things get quiet and more sparse again for thirty seconds before swaths of "singular" strings begin swooping in and around the music to the most gorgeous, emotional effect. At 4:45 the beat intensifies as the drums and bass begin pounding and crashing while the musical soundscape becomes awash in the thickness of a constant kind of tremolo. Beginning at the end of the eighth minute Taka's full-chord tremolos with keyboard mirror bombard and bathe us until the song's Berlin School sequenced demise in the final 30 seconds. Definitely a top three song; probably my favorite song on the album. (19/20)

7. "Parting" (4:25) piano and strings! It's so MONO but it's unlike anything they've ever done before. Could be Jesy Chiang and her CICADA band. Very pretty, very emotional. (8.75/10)

8. "Meet Us Where the Night Ends" (9:05) opens with odd sequence (arpeggio) of computer-sampled vocal loops before guitar arpeggio joins in. Very cool! At the one minute mark a second guitar enters playing some echoed and spaciously placed notes. In the third minute the second guitarist doubles his slow pace as bass and cymbals (and then full drums) and "orchestration" join in. Not very complex music but all threads are woven into a nice tapestry. Around 3:20 things break down to the original voice and guitar foundation before low-end guitar tremolo and orchestral strings' rising and falling chord progression ensues. Drums re-emerge at the five minute mark. Searing electric guitar flames in at 5:36 to add his emotional input. At 6:45 drummer signals "it's time to get real" as everybody seems to amp up their intensity (especially the drums--which erupt into full freak out mode at 7:17). Awesome! And different! (18/20)

9. "Funeral Song" (3:21) flutey church organ swirling around a cycle of a few chords before a sequence of "trumpet plus horn chords" join in. And woven together with some reverb and other effects and that's it! Awesome! (9/10)

10. "Vanishing, Vanishing Maybe" (6:14) Yoda's heavily reverbed guitar arpeggi (on the left) are soon joined by Taka's own louder sound on the right. Add Wurlitzer-like organ in the second minute. The melodies and harmonic structure here is so cool, so familiar. Drum kit enters at 2:10. Sounds like practice, nothing too challenging or groundbreaking in terms of structure until the third ROBIN GUTHRIE-like shoe-gaze guitar comes sliding in at 3:28. Now that is cool! Just a solid COCTEAU TWINS instrumental. (8.75/10)

Five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music--one of the few Post Rock albums that have ever earned five stars from me, but this is a dazzling display of the core basic best that the sub-genre has to offer juxtaposed with a band's maturity plus the rewards it can reap with it's willingness to take risks and try new things. Bravo! Taka, Tamaki and Yoda for your metamorphosis.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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