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MONO

Post Rock/Math rock • Japan


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Mono biography
The Japanese Mogwai? Well, not quite, but one might get the impression if not paying enough attention to the music. Formed in Tokyo (Japan) back in 1999, Mono are undoubtedly one of the most popular representatives of the post-rock genre. However, do not go expecting to hear anything remotely similar to the more "avant-garde" side of post-rock (GY!BE, A Silver Mt. Zion etc.) Mono's approach is considerably more melodic, and the compositions are structurally much simpler. This guitar-lead ensemble mostly relies on creating very emotionally charged compositions, occasionally using huge build-ups with their massive distorted guitar riffs ("wall of noise") in a similar way to their Scottish counterparts Mogwai. Their approach is hardly the most original one, but it does sound good, and I guess that's all that really matters, right? Recommended for fans of the genre.

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Buy MONO Music


Hymn to the Immortal WindHymn to the Immortal Wind
Temporary Residence 2009
Audio CD$11.13
$5.22 (used)
You Are ThereYou Are There
Temporary Residence 2006
Audio CD$8.70
$2.49 (used)
The Last DawnThe Last Dawn
Temporary Residence 2014
Audio CD$11.96
$5.75 (used)
Gone: A Collection of EP's 2000-2007Gone: A Collection of EP's 2000-2007
Temporary Residence 2007
Audio CD$5.90
$3.97 (used)
For My ParentsFor My Parents
Temporary Residence 2012
Audio CD$9.89
$6.89 (used)
Rays of DarknessRays of Darkness
Temporary Residence 2014
Audio CD$9.67
$4.45 (used)
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MONO discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MONO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.76 | 23 ratings
Under The Pipal Tree
2001
3.80 | 31 ratings
One Step More And You Die
2003
3.88 | 30 ratings
Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined
2004
3.98 | 80 ratings
You Are There
2006
3.46 | 18 ratings
Palmless Prayer-Mass Murder Refrain
2006
3.77 | 129 ratings
Hymn to the Immortal Wind
2009
3.88 | 26 ratings
For My Parents
2012
4.42 | 19 ratings
The Last Dawn
2014
4.18 | 11 ratings
Rays of Darkness
2014

MONO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.17 | 11 ratings
Holy Ground: NYC Live
2010

MONO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MONO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 4 ratings
Gone: A Collection of EP's 2000-2007
2007

MONO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.72 | 4 ratings
Hey, You
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mono / Pelican
2005
3.00 | 1 ratings
Memorie Dal Futuro
2006
4.50 | 2 ratings
Travels In Constants (Vol. 22): The Phoenix Tree
2007

MONO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Last Dawn by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.42 | 19 ratings

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The Last Dawn
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

5 stars Mono. From Japan. How this band stays beneath the radar I have no clue. Master 'storytellers' with their musical soundscapes, their music is always meditative, deeply emotive and, despite seemingly 'simple' song structures, the band always performs at a flawless level. I realize that Post Rock is not for everyone--and I rarely find a Post Rock album to be worthy of the "masterpiece of all-time" status--but this dedicated, focused, persevering Japanese band may have achieved such a status with this 2014 release. And, with the inclusion of its companion release, Rays of Darkness, the deal may be sealed. As described on their Facebook page, The Last Dawn is the "lighter" of the two albums and probably the more melodic and "prettier" of the two. It also reveals a scaled-back, slimmer lineup of musicians when compared to their releases in the mid and late Naughties. Yet the two 2014 releases offer quite a variety of instrumental companions --piano, tuned percussives, strings, trumpets, death metal "growl" vocals--all the while remaining firmly reliant on their one consistent and remarkable trait: the heavily effected tremolo strummed electric guitars of Hideki "Yoda" Suematsu and Takaakira "Taka" Goto. The influences of Minimalists like Henryk Górecki, soundtrack artists like Ennio Morricone and Lars von Trier, and shoe gaze innovators like Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields are quite evident throughout the album(s).

The Last Dawn starts out rather sedately with the quiet, spacious, rather low-key, "The Land Between the Tides/Glory" (8/10). The song begins its post-rock climb to climactic release in the third minute but then falls slowly and delicately after the seven minute mark--which, I think, marks the end of the "Glory" part of the two-part song. (Is this song--or album--an eulogy to WWII Japan?)

2. Katana" (6:21) (10/10) marks one of the most beautiful post-rock melodies/songs I've ever heard--a feeling that continues through the next three songs, 3. "Cyclone" (6:24) (10/10) with its awesome bass grounding throughout and amazingly sustained peak at 3:00, and 4. "Elysian Castles" (8:11) with its gorgeous piano-based Japanese folk melody and ever-so delicately woven guitar and cello threads (10/10).

5. "Where We Begin" (7:25) just sounds a little bit old and tired--like an old U2 song that pulses and rocks but never really goes anywhere. (7/10)

6. "The Last Dawn" (8:37) contains some extraordinarily beautiful, slowly developing three-part threads woven into a rather brilliant and unusual harmonic tapestry. At 2:45 an almost Gospel plea arises momentarily from the tremolo-picked lead guitar but then just as suddenly disappears. The weave deconstructs down to just one single instrument by the four minute mark before being reconstituted with sliding blues-chords, crescendoing cymbols and chime-like two-note arpeggi. Gorgeous yet understated. The power and strength established by the seventh minute sustain themselves through toward the end of the song, the end of the album, but then quietly dissipate as if into the night mist. Really emotional! So powerful and yet not over-the-top or bombastic. Masterful. (9/10)

Again, I am not sure of the "story" Mono are trying to tell with the music on this album: end of the Japanese empire? end of Industrial society? end of human occupancy of planet Earth? Could be all or none of these. Regardless, the band has put together a collection of songs that convert power, grace, beauty, and loss with a kind of emotional impact rarely heard/felt in modern music. An album that really needs to be heard to be believed. And felt.

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 Hymn to the Immortal Wind by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.77 | 129 ratings

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Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BatBacon

2 stars "Hymn to the immortal wind" is ironically an a bit overblown album, but I always thought of it as "Okay" in the background while sleeping. At least a nice substitute for Sigur Rós (thats a crazy idea, there is no such thing!) or Godspeed you! Black Emperor. But today I made the huge mistake to pay a bit attention to the immortal wind and actually listen to it. I found that the album is missing two important things, the first is good songwriting and the second is a decent drummer. I've listened to progressive rock for several years now and even though many of my favorite albums are "progressive", many of the classic albums of this "genre" has a bit of a problem with separating epic songwriting from good, inspirational songwriting. They are not necessarily the same thing, which Mono is making a fine example of with this album.

Seven songs, over an hour of music, but nothing here is very memorable or touching. The ideas behind the album seems to have been to write the most beautiful, sad and epic songs on the planet and the first five minutes of the first song you actually believe that they will. It starts off sooooo fantastic, you really can't put it into words. Sad but beautiful guitar playing, an outstanding and very emotional string arrangement, everything slowly builds up to the epic climax of the song. The problem is that it never stops building, like they ran out of ideas for this part. It just goes on and on and nothing really happens. It sounded so very promising in the beginning, but the only climax we get is when the drummer releases his great rhythmic powers over his drum kit in a fantastically technical performance. I guess thats how the drummer likes to see it, anyway. In reality its goes so wrong you really can't believe your ears.

When a drummer just tries to score points with advanced fills without listening to the song, the rhythm or the mood, the song dies like a fly on a windshield. Yasunori Takada should have done something like the drummer of pop group Glasvegas or Mumford and sons, a simple, marching rhythm with a lot of emotion and power, something to give the song a lift without putting itself in center of the song. No one can be Neil Peart in a Godspeed-ish song, it would make no sense. Especially not this drummer who really can't pull off any of the stunts he takes on.

After the first song you might think the next would be better. Its not. Different song, exactly the same idea - "lets play this sad but beautiful guitar melody for about ten minutes while the string section slowly builds up to the songs great climax with epic drumming and loud sounds". One song like this is okey, but two in a row? To tell you the truth, all of the songs on the album is like this. A great build up to an epic final that never, ever comes. Track number five is my favorite from the album, because its only four minutes and still its just as "epic" as the ten minute songs.

I guess its hard to make instrumental albums that keep the listener interested whole the way through, but this is certainly not how to do it. I think some vocals could have helped them, because now the song haven't got own identities. Its more like "epic song 1", "epic song 2"... and so on. Also, don't go for the epic stuff without ideas for it. The classic prog albums are considered "classic" for great songwriting, not epicness. Thats just one really great thing to spice up the songs with. But without a good song (and great rhythms) epicness is nothing at all. Dry, boring and very very mindless.

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 Hymn to the Immortal Wind by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.77 | 129 ratings

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Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars By this point, I've more or less given up on Mono growing musically. Their first few albums were great, but by 2008 it was long past the point where bands could just play middle-of-the-road lukewarm Mogwai/Godspeed-inspired post-rock and expect that to fly. If you're a reasonably experienced post-rock listener, then literally nothing on Hymn to the Immortal Wind will surprise you, except perhaps for how bland it is; if you aren't, I worry that it will leave you wondering what all the fuss is about. Please, don't judge the genre on this lukewarm and mediocre album; there's better stuff out there, including far better albums by Mono.

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 You Are There by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 80 ratings

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You Are There
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I actually like Mono's You Are There a little less than their preceding albums; it's still a well- produced and well-performed post-rock calvacade, but I think the soundscapes in question are a little less well-judged. For the sort of slow post-rock sound Mono go for, judging exactly how long to let the quiet parts rumble on for before breaking out in a loud instrumental crescendo is crucial, and I think this time around their judgement calls are a little off. Still, anyone who enjoyed the previous three albums will probably find You Are There to be a reasonable addition to their collection; I just don't think it should overshadow their previous work.

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 Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined  by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 30 ratings

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Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Japan's post-rock powerhouse gets some international guest stars in (including Steve Albini on production duties for extra indie rock cred) and brings out another compelling post-rock piece. It's very much in the same vein as that established by the likes of Mogwai or Godspeed You Black Emperor, but Mono are one of the few bands who pull off that style with such flair that it doesn't particularly matter that they don't sound enormously different from their inspirations. Mono just about manage to retain their own identity through their careful production and tight songwriting, which stands in contrast to the ramshackle improvisations of the other two groups, and on this album Steve Albini's production is perfect for Mono's painstaking and perfectionist take on post-rock.

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 One Step More And You Die by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.80 | 31 ratings

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One Step More And You Die
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars To my ears, One Step More and You Die seems to be a bit of a darker and stormier prospect than the band's debut album (Under the Pipal Tree), with some really outrageously noisy crescendos which begin to verge on metal territory - I'm inclined to agree with Bonnek that there's just a touch of Kyuss in the mix there. Since this came out at around the time that Isis came up with their revolutionary fusion of post-rock and metal on Oceanic, this album proves that Mono were no mere imitators, but had their fingers right on the pulse of the post-rock scene and were at the forefront of its developments and trends.

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 Under The Pipal Tree by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.76 | 23 ratings

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Under The Pipal Tree
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mono's debut album is a confident stab at the sort of post-rock sound pioneered by Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor. Unlike early works by those bands, Mono have no truck with shaky production quality or fuzzy found audio pieces to spice up their instrumental post- rock: they simply play away to their heart's content, and what they come up with is more than good enough to justify their faith in their music to hold its own without resorting to any atmospheric tricks (not that Mogwai or Godspeed ever used such tricks to cover for the shortcomings of their own music, but I'd say more than a few of their imitators did).

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 Holy Ground: NYC Live by MONO album cover Live, 2010
4.17 | 11 ratings

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Holy Ground: NYC Live
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When Mono went Stereo...

The Japanese band celebrate their 10th anniversary with an momentous concert in New York City, complete with 24-piece orchestra.

The Good: This is essential listening for all fans of the band. The set-list borrows heavily from their most recent studio effort "Hymn to the Immortal Wind" including my personal favourites Ashes in the Snow, Everlasting Light and Pure as Snow. There are also additions from "Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined", "You Are There" and their 2001 debut, "Under the Pipal Tree". The live recording and orchestral contribution does exactly what is should, revitalises tracks which I had previously overlooked in their studio setting and a brings a fuller, more energized sound that spans the entire release. In short, it makes the nondescript noteworthy, and the excellent outstanding. It turns snowstorms into blizzards, and tremolo rainfall into a sonic deluge.

The Bad: Like all Mono the sound and song structure is pretty much identical throughout, with maybe a hint of variation during the shorter tracks. It's basically just the same piece of clay, moulded into slightly different shapes.

The Verdict: An excellent addition to any post-rock collection.

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 Hymn to the Immortal Wind by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.77 | 129 ratings

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Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by The Runaway

3 stars After reading reviews about this album, I've realized that I am the only one who has problems with this album. Hymn to the Immortal Wind is Japanese Post Rock band Mono's latest album. It is claimed to be one of the best post-rock albums but I beg to differ.

I understand all the hype and why people enjoy it but I just can't bond with it, as it doesn't give me the feeling other post-rock albums give me. It follows in the way of old PR such as Godspeed and Sigur Ros, and even brings in use of new things like large orchestras and some Japanese melodies, but it fails to ignite a spark in my mind, even after multiple listens.

Most songs are long, and IMO even a bit too long for them to be actually considered interesting, also since they do not contain interesting climaxes or so called "beautiful" chord sequences. In the eyes of certain people this can be a masterpiece but in the eyes of others it can be a plain old, repetitive, dull album. I am neither of those but I just can't see what others see about this album.

I am not saying this album does not have its moments, such as Pure as Snow, or Follow the Map, but the other songs just feel a bit too long, and dull.

Overall, I give this album three stars. It's okay, it's not essential, but many people consider it to be a masterpiece and as other reviews suggest I am the only one who does not really like this album, so I must take the other people's thoughts into consideration.

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 Hymn to the Immortal Wind by MONO album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.77 | 129 ratings

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Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mono Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Drowning in a sea of tremolo...

This conceptual love story marks the 10th anniversary of Japanese post-rock group Mono.

The Good: The opening track is more epic than a herd of elephants riding segways! Just listening to it makes me feel like a wounded war hero, returning home to the prospect of hot showers, soft beds, and perhaps even a medal of valor. Everlasting Light is equally good and 'the other snow one' come in a close third. The album's overall sound is almost as beautiful as its artwork, which also draws parallels to the sonic deluge that is characteristic throughout.

The Bad: As their name might suggest, the musical approach can be a bit one-dimensional at times, with drawn out crescendos becoming a little too formulaic. I didn't find the album's two shorter tracks to be that engaging and whilst I really, really wanted to enjoy The Battle to Heaven for the celestial imagery its title suggests, I think Queue to the Supermarket Checkout would have been more appropriate.

The Verdict: A dish best served in the pouring rain.

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