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Mono - Nowhere, Now Here CD (album) cover

NOWHERE, NOW HERE

Mono

Post Rock/Math rock


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TCat
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars After 10 studio albums and 20 years, the Japanese Post-rock band released their album "Nowhere, Now Here" early in 2019. Their music has always been some of the best emotional and dynamic post-rock out there, expanding into new areas and also making some of the most symphonic post-rock in the genre by utilizing orchestral styles. This new album utilizes electronics for the first time. They also introduce their new drummer through this album.

The album starts out with a short introduction called "God Bless" which begins the album with layered synths and a warbling brass sound. This flows into the next track "After You Comes the Flood". The beginning is a soft guitar and a quick building of a fuzzy effect, a sudden stop, and starting again with a sudden intensity with a melodic riff shared between guitars and a thumping percussion. Later there is another sudden lift in the intensity, continuing the development around the main riff. More layers create more sound as it continues, and also more emotional power. The next track is "Breathe" and it actually features vocals from Tamaki for the first time ever. The track is soft, yet dark as electronics establish the foundation in a slow manner. Tamaki's soft and airy vocals feel so natural to the music and you wonder why she hasn't sung on any of their albums before. The signature post-rock guitar begins to pluck out pieces of the melody carried by the vocals. An echo effect from the guitars and soft mellotron style synths usher in a slow rhythmic pattern as this beautiful track continues.

The title track "Nowhere, Now Here" follows with the first lengthy track at over 10 minutes. This one starts out taking it's time, developing slowly with a solo guitar and later adding layers one by one, including more brass. At 3 minutes, everything falls to silence, and then a sudden eruption of music as the full band kicks into gear, with a stirring drum line and guitars supported by nice keys. At around 6 minutes, after the percussion drops out, it returns, this time building intensity even more and coaxing more power from the guitars. Excellent and beautiful track. This is the style of emotional and orchestral post rock the band is so famous for, and it reels me into their music every time.

"Far and Further" starts off with a dreamy, ascending riff repeating from a soft guitar with another guitar playing a soft melodic line over it. Again, this is another lovely track, but staying soft this time, until you get to the 3:30 mark, where there is a sudden dark, heaviness added turning this into a cinematic piece. "Sorrow" continues with this feeling with more soft guitars in the beginning. A slow beat comes in. It flows along nice for a while before a sudden burst of emotion. Again, there is that dark cinematic and sweeping feel. The original theme comes back with more string effects before the burst happens again. At 5 minutes, things get darker and heavier with more guitar added. Later, even another stage of loudness happens almost smothering everything else, but the beautiful theme still persists and it just climaxes into one of the emotional and expansive post-rock tracks ever. This track is a pure post-rock masterpiece!

"Parting" utilizes a piano and string effects in a pensive and lush track. The piano and the electronics in this album is exactly the dimension needed in Mono's music to make it perfect and fits right into the band's sound and only adds to the entire sound. "Meet Us Where the Night Ends" starts off with some atmospheric, spacey sounding effects while twinkling guitars play around it all. The sound builds as the synths drive the crescendo, and eventually percussion is added in. The percussion drops off further into the track, and again the sound starts to build, this time pushed on with the guitars, and some orchestral sounding string effects. The percussion starts again, and together everything pushes to another expansive climax. At the 6:30 mark, the guitar layers kick in and things get very thick and loud as it continues through it's 9+ minute duration. The heavy emotion of the music can build just as much emotion in your own soul as you listen. Phenomenal!

The atmospheric "Funeral Song" follows with the synths creating brass-like sounds that play long sustained notes. The final track comes much too quickly because you just want this beauty to go on. "Vanishing, Vanishing Maybe" ends the album with the chiming guitars playing over sustained synth chords. Just after 2 minutes, the drums kick in establishing a moderate tempo. At 3:30, the mood gets more expansive with a nice guitar melody line. But things end softly this time around.

The addition of electronics to Mono's music gave their music the element that is needed to make their music perfect. This album is absolutely amazing and the fact that it is all instrumental except for one track should not scare you away. The music is beautiful as always, almost beyond words. Each track on this album is an experience, full of emotion and expansiveness, the traits that have always existed in Mono's music, yet somehow, this time they have even made it better with more dynamics, many times unpredictable this time around. I keep saying this and completely believe that Mono is one of the best post-rock bands in existence and deserve to be up there with the greatness of GY!BE, Mogwai and Sigur Ros. They create music of the highest caliber and this time around, is even more symphonic, cinematic and expansive as ever. Highly recommended and deserving of 5 glowing stars!

Report this review (#2121322)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2019 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 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.

Report this review (#2216379)
Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2019 | Review Permalink

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