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Mono - Pilgrimage of the Soul CD (album) cover



Post Rock/Math rock

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4 stars Expanding, growing, still willing to experiment, this is a 22-year old band that is setting the example for all other bands. Here they have nicely added/embellished their sound with orchestral instruments and arrangements.

1. "Riptide" (5:51) powerful in the best way that MONO can be. Opens with horns in the background as delicately picked electric guitar--until 1:20 when a volume 10 tsunami of sound crashes in (scaring the bejeezus outof me everytime I hear it!) The intensity is almost militaristic--but maybe stronger--like a volcanic eruption! And just as relentless! By song's end I feel beaten to a pulp! Awesome! Could be a top three song--if only for it's long-lasting effect on my nervous system. (9/10)

2. "Imperfect Things" (6:25) delicate loop of a harp-like arpeggio opens this before being joined by slow, distinct guitar and bass notes. Such a contrast to the previous song's barrage (from which I am still reeling--my nervous system still recovering from). Second slow-picked guitar and second windy-synth loop join in during the third minute. The loops build in the fourth minute until deep bass chords and disco drum play join in. Guitars return now playing full chords where they had only submitted single notes before, but the timing/pace is the same. The drummer's snare play takes us out of Disco-realm. At the five-minute mark guitars and strings enter, taking the music in a different direction--while the rhythm section remains constant. All pressure is relieved at the six-minute mark for a finish of just the loops. Nice. (8.75/10)

3. "Heaven in a Wild Flower" (7:10) sustained organ note (dyad?) with electric piano playing slowly over the top. At 1:20 far background bowed electric guitar and second hand of electric piano and bass join in. It's slow and old feeling. At 2:28 horns join in from the distant background. At 3:03 distant background electronic percussive noises, and then, at 3:40, cellos, while full brass section moves to the fore. Full strings join in the next round as horns become a little more expanded and expressive. At 5:50 things begin to break down, leaving single cello to solo over the basic foundation of electric piano chords, samples & loops. Surprised to have such little representation of the band's electric guitar-oriented sound--and no drums! (13/15)

4. "To See a World" (4:00) two arpeggiating guitars with full strings support are joined in the second minute by cymbals, snare drum and, at 1:45, finally, by the full band--bursting forth in a full rock/Post Rock wall of sound. The stark and untreated snare drum hits feel a bit incongruous with the deluge of murky treatments given all the other instruments (except, perhaps, the bass guitar). Nice, old-fashioned, orchestra-supported Mono Post Rock. (8.5/10)

5. "Innocence" (8:10) female choir chord and percussive guitar notes open this before being joined by an overture- like quick series of band + orchestra chord progressions--a pattern that is repeated over and over until 2:30 when tremolo-electric guitar seems to be trying to take us in another direction. But, no! The pattern is too strong; the rondo of power chords sustains and maintains its dominance--until 4:26 when a single drum hit signals the unleashing of a full-on Mono barrage of sound. It's wonderful! Great chord progression under the command of these masters of contrast and melody. Then, at 6:05, things fall into spacey stillness before guitar and organ notes and reverse percussives start to creep forward and populate the cosmic field. Interesting--and unusual. (13.25/15)

6. "The Auguries" (7:30) Taking on a rather cinematic musical style, the band create a kind of James Bond-like feel-- even as they take it the music into new heights at the end of the second minute. The typical Mono construct of rondo cyclical approach ensues as each band member takes turns adding to or embellishing their sound and or contribution. Yoda's searing MY BLOODY VALENTINE-like guitar play in the fifth minute is heart-wrenching, to say the least. Super powerful--and quite haunting. A top three song for me. (13.75/15)

7. "Hold Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand" (12:21) sustained oscillating Hammond organ chords to which are added bee-like horn notes (sampled?) and then xylophone arpeggi. At 3:00 gentle guitar and bass notes are entered. These are soon joined by drums. Beautiful! A heart-wrenching melody. Tremolo guitar joins the mix at the very end of the fifth minute followed buy a ramping up of the strings in background support. Around the six-minute mark we return to the bare-bones weave of the opening section--like starting over--before drums, guitars, bass, and strings rejoin--this time with more intensity and complexity. All the while, the gorgeous base melody line is held strong. At the eight-minute mark the rock elements all intensify, taking the walls of sound up a few notches, while maintaining the core. In the second half of the tenth minute, the march-time of the drum seems to spoil a bit of the integrity of the melodic and emotional impact. To bad! This had all the makings of one of Mono's finest! Despite this little hump, the final 70 seconds of entropic cacophony is awesome. My other top three song. (22.75/25)

8. "And Eternity in an Hour" (5:51) slow, hypnotic (lullaby-like) piano arpeggi--at first by one and then by two hands-- are soon joined by full spectrum of orchestral strings. Beautiful minimalist chamber music! Start to finish! Wow! Who'd have thought this possible from a heavily electrified Post Rock band? A top three song. (9.5/10)

Total Time 57:18

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and the finest Post Rock album of 2021! What a musical treat! Highly recommended!

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Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Review Permalink

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