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Mono - Travels In Constants (Vol. 22): The Phoenix Tree CD (album) cover

TRAVELS IN CONSTANTS (VOL. 22): THE PHOENIX TREE

Mono

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.04 | 4 ratings

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TCat
4 stars In between 2006's "You Are There" and 2009's "Hymn to the Immortal Wind", 2 seminal albums in the excellent Japanese post- rock band "Mono"'s discography, an EP was released to help keep fans appeased during this time. This EP was part of a greater series called "Travels in Constants", a collection of limited release EPs released between the years 1999 and 2015 by the American label Temporary Residence Limited. These EPs featured bands like "Mogwai", "Explosions in the Sky", "Low", "Songs: Ohia" and "Eluvium" to name a few and there were 25 volumes total. Volume 22 was Mono's contribution to this series and the EP was called "The Phoenix Tree". The 4 tracks on this EP were released exclusively on this EP and are centered around the aftermath of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and the rising of the city from the ashes.

Mono is a band that has received a lot of respect in the post-rock genre as a band that has been at the forefront of the movement. The band still releases new albums, and has one coming soon in 2019. Their music is definitely a moody brand of post rock, yet they stay mostly away from the avant-garde style of GY!BE and incorporate a more melodic and beautiful, yet dark sound. Most of their music is also instrumental. The basic band is made up of four individuals, Yoda and Takaagira Goto on guitars, Tamaki on bass and Yasunori Takada on drums. This EP also features a small string ensemble.

The EP "The Phoenix Tree" starts out with "Gone". The track is a pensive and soft song starting with two guitars playing counter melodies. The basic band soon joins as the music swells a bit, but stays melodic and pensive and soon becomes more stately as strings join in. Instead of a slow crescendo, this one intensifies in shorter stages since it is rather short at 4 minutes, so it becomes abrasive quickly representing how quickly things can change.

"Black Rain" flows from the last track on a metallic fading drone. This 9 minute track takes more time to develop as guitars swirl quietly around each other in a more complimentary style this time. Shortly after the 3 minute mark, guest Giovanna Cacciola begins a reading in Italian as the band continue a lovely backdrop and I swear I can hear mellotron underneath it all. This is one of the few times the band utilizes any kind of vocals. At 7 minutes, there is a sudden increase in intensity without any build and the vocals stop as the band plays with a lot of passion.

"Rainbow" hints at the promise of better days to come with a short track featuring only the string ensemble playing a brighter sounding theme.

"Little Boy (1945 - Future)" ends the EP with another 9 minute track. It starts with a music box playing with the melody slightly askew. This fades out and a drone fades in with sustained guitar notes playing around it. Soon, the music box starts again with it's previous theme and the guitars and drone adding a backdrop. A slow crescendo builds with strings joining in. Intensity grows with the crescendo. At 5:30, we reach a plateau as drums start in and a lovely melody is birthed from the music box theme. Churning guitars continue to build the intensity from this into a beautiful and emotional ending.

Mono continues to amaze on this EP which adequately fills the gap between albums during this time. It is no small feat the way the band builds a beautiful melody against a bleak backdrop, but this is their main strength. The tracks on this limited released EP are now available on the collection "Gone: A Collection of EPs 2000-2007" and would be the best way to obtain the tracks from this EP, but if you find either copy, you would be well served to get either one. It is not very often that I can rate an EP above 3 stars, especially one that is available on another album, but in this case, the music just soars and should not be missed, especially among post-rock fans. Highly recommended.

TCat | 4/5 |

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