Mono

The Tokyo, Japan based 4-piece Instrumental Rock band MONO was originally formed in 1999. Their unique approach of combining moving orchestral arrangements and shoegaze guitar noise is held in extremely high regard; so much so, that the band’s musicianship and the diverse musical palette has eclipsed the Rock genre and exists within its own realm. As British Musical Magazine NME once stated, “this is music for the Gods”. A particularly monumental live memory of the band was a special set of shows with a 23-piece orchestra in New York, Tokyo, London and Melbourne.

Their annual world tour consists of around 150 shows. The band has now visited over 59 countries (and counting) and proudly holds the title of being one of the most internationally successful bands in Japan. Both critics and fans of Rock music agree that MONO are one of the best live bands in existence.

After releasing 10 successful albums including a live album with an orchestra in New York, the band received the highly regarded award “The Marshall Hawkins Awards: Best Musical Score – Featurette” from the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema for their collaborative short film “Where We Begin” in 2015. The band was also nominated for “Ariel Award for Best Original Music Score” for the feature film “The 4th Company” which was released in 2016.

In 2018, the band welcomed a new drummer Dahm and began a new journey. This year, the band received a special invitation to be one of the headliners of London’s Meltdown Festival, personally requested by the 2018’s curator Robert Smith of The Cure, where the stage was shared with artists such as My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails, Mogwai and Deftones.

The band’s 20 year anniversary was welcomed in the following year. To commemorate this occasion, the 10th album “Nowhere Now Here” was released together with a world tour. The tour was over a year long, consisting of 4 special orchestra shows in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and London, and marked its successful end in March 2020.

Now, the band prepares for the new album, together once again with their longtime friend Steve Albini of Electrical Audio, which is planned to be released in 2021.

Members

Current members

Former members

History

Electric guitarist “Yoda” in 2007

Formation and early years: 1999–2000

In January 1999, Tokyo native electric guitarist Takaakira “Taka” Goto began composing music and spent the remainder of the year searching for other musicians with which to form an instrumental rock band; eventually recruiting long-time friend and fellow electric guitarist Hideki “Yoda” Suematsu on rhythm guitar. By December 1999, Tamaki Kunishi and Yasunori Takada had joined Mono on bass guitar and drums, respectively. The band played their first show in late January 2000, at Club 251 in Setagaya, Tokyo. In May 2000, the band entered Rinky Dink Studio in Tokyo and recorded their first extended play with engineers Tetsuya Morioka and Toshiro Kai, which was later self-released in September 2000: a Japan-only release titled Hey, You on their own independent record label, Forty-4. The band spent the bulk of the year composing more music and performing at various houses around Tokyo, in the neighbourhoods of Setagaya, Shimokitazawa, and Shibuya. Mono also travelled to the United States to play a one-off show in November at the Mercury Lounge in New York City; a show which was later described by Paul Wheeler of rockofjapan.com as having a “big beautiful sound that […] naturally [expanded] through each song.”

Under the Pipal Tree: 2001

Following the release of the Hey, You extended play, Mono spent the next year playing shows throughout their native Japan, as well as playing several shows in New York City and Sweden. The band also made an appearance at the 2001 South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. Between performing in Japan, Mono recorded their first studio album, Under the Pipal Tree at Studio Take-1 and Forty-4 in Tokyo. The majority of the tracks were recorded live (a trend which the band would adopt for all subsequent studio albums) in one day, the recording session of which was funded by experimental American musician John Zorn, with the band handling production duties. The album featured two previously released tracks (from the Hey, You extended play), as well as six original compositions. The album was released worldwide through New York City record label Tzadik, owned and operated by John Zorn.

One Step More and You Die: 2002–2003

After the release of Under the Pipal Tree, the band spent the next year touring Japan and the United States, also visiting Germany and Taiwan in support of the album, as well as composing new material inspired by the tour. In June 2002, between shows in Japan, the band recorded their second studio album, One Step More and You Die at Little Bach and Sound City studios in Tokyo, with Mono again handling production duties. The album was released in Japan in October of that year on Japanese record label Music Mine Inc. The band spent most of 2003 touring in support of the album, returning to Japan, the United States, Sweden, and visiting Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom for the first time.

Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined: 2004

Mono’s next release was a collaboration with Japanese musician Aki Onda; whom the band met while touring New York in 2002. The band, Onda, and several notable members of the New York experimental music scene (including DJ OliveJackie-O Motherfucker, and Loren Connors) remixed One Step More and You Die. The album, titled New York Soundtracks, was released in February 2004 on Human Highway, Mono’s own record label, and a successor to Forty-4.

In January 2004, the band began a long partnership with Chicagoan recording engineer Steve Albini, recording their third studio album at Electrical Audio Engineering in Chicago, Illinois. The album, titled Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined was released in April 2004 on Human Highway in Japan, and on Rykodisk in Europe and Temporary Residence Limited in the United States later in the year. After the album’s release, the band embarked upon a year-long tour of America, Asia, and Europe.

You Are There: 2005–2007

Mono in Stockholm, Sweden, May 2005

The band also spent 2005 touring Asia, America, and Europe composing music, and eventually returning to Electrical Audio Engineering in February and September to record their fourth studio album with Steve Albini. The album, titled You Are There was released in Japan in March 2006 on Human Highway, and on Temporary Residence Limited in the United States and Europe. Mono also collaborated with Japanese musician World’s End Girlfriend in 2005, releasing a collaboration studio album in December of that year, on Human Highway, and with American band Pelican, releasing a split album with the band through Temporary Residence Limited in October 2005. In February 2007, American webzine Somewhere Cold voted their split with World’s End Girlfriend Palmless Paryaer / Mass Murder Refrain No. 7 on their 2006 Somewhere Cold Awards Hall of Fame.

Mono spent 2006 and 2007 touring Asia, America and Europe in support of You Are There. In October 2006, the band returned to Electrical Audio Engineering and recorded a four-track extended play, which was released in April 2007 as part of Temporary Residence Limited’s Travels in Constants series, titled The Phoenix Tree. In November 2006, the band released a two-track extended play titled Memorie dal Futuro through Vinyl Films, and also contributed a track to a Temporary Residence Limited compilation album, Thankful. In September 2007, the band released their first compilation album, compiling material from all previous extended plays, split albums, and compilations, titled Gone: A Collection of EPs 2000–2007, as well as the music documentary DVD, The Sky Remains the Same as Ever, documenting the worldwide tours of 2006 and 2007 and the recording of The Phoenix Tree extended play.

Hymn to the Immortal Wind: 2008–2011

Mono in Prague, Czech Republic, April 2010

In 2008, the band took a year-long break from touring, spending the time composing new music and playing a handful of shows throughout the year, including an appearance at All Tomorrow’s Parties in Somerset, England, curated by Explosions in the Sky in May. Mono returned to Electrical Audio Engineering in June and November 2008 to record their fifth studio album, Hymn to the Immortal Wind, which was later released in March 2009, and followed by a year-long tour of America and Eurasia. The band played a ten-year anniversary show at the Society for Ethical Culture Hall in New York, United States on 8 May 2009, accompanied by the 24-piece Wordless Music Orchestra. The performance was recorded and later released as both a live album and a DVD, named Holy Ground: NYC Live With The Wordless Music Orchestra, through Temporary Residence Limited in Europe and America, and Human Highway in Asia. The band then took another year-long break and went into “hibernation mode”, returning to Japan to work on songs for a new album.

For My Parents: 2012–2014

Mono spent early 2012 recording a new album at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, New York, with recording engineers Henry Hirsch, accompanied by the Wordless Music Orchestra. The album was mixed by Fred Weaver at his studio, Apocalypse the Apocalypse, in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. For My Parents was MONO’s first record in eight years not to be recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago. For My Parents, was released on 4 September 2012, through Temporary Residence Limited. The band’s press release for For My Parents states “We hope that this album serves as a gift from child to parent. While everything else continues to change, this love remains a constant throughout time.”

The Last Dawn/Rays of Darkness: 2014–2016

Mono released a double album on 24 October 2014, two contrasting records: The Last Dawn, being a more traditional Mono record; and Rays of Darkness, some of their heaviest material, even more notable for the first use of vocals on The Hand That Holds The Truth. The two were released on Temporary Residence Limited in North American and Pelagic Records elsewhere.

Requiem for Hell: 2016–2019

Mono announced the forthcoming release of Requiem For Hell on 19 July 2016, their ninth studio album. It reintroduces strings to their sound. It was also their first full album under the newly formed label Pelagic Records. Prior to the full release of Requiem For Hell they did a split album with The Ocean (Transcendental) to commemorate this event. Later it was known that it was actually a sneak peek of the first two songs of their upcoming album. On December 9, 2017 they announced via their social media pages that Yasunori Takada (drum kit, glockenspiel, synthesizer), who has been a member since the start, will leave the band due to “personal reasons.” He was replaced by Dahm Majuri Cipolla beginning with the band’s live performance on August 9, 2018.

Starting in August 2018, they worked on their next project with Steve Albini at Electrical once again. On September 25, 2018, the new album was revealed to be called Nowhere Now Here, their first with Cipolla, it was released January 25, 2019.

Hymn to the Immortal Wind (10 Year Anniversary Edition):2019-present

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of MONO, and the 10th anniversary of Hymn to the Immortal Wind, Temporary Residence Ltd. released Hymn to the Immortal Wind – Anniversary Edition. Featuring remastered versions of the original.

Musical style

Although Mono’s musical style has developed throughout their career, it has primarily been characterised by dynamic, guitar-based instrumental soundscapes, the majority of which are composed by lead guitarist Takaakira Goto, in an attempt to channel and express the emotions of joy and sorrow. The band’s style of music originally featured elements of minimalism and noise, and later developed to integrate more complex, orchestral arrangements and instrumentation. Mono’s music has been categorised as both contemporary classical and post-rock, but Goto has stated:

Music is communicating the incommunicable; that means a term like post-rock doesn’t mean much to us, as the music needs to transcend genre to be meaningful.— Takaakira Goto, Time Out Goto performing in 2007; the band provides an emotional live performance

Mono has toured worldwide several times. Their live show tends to feature intense and emotional playing by the band members, as well as using extreme dynamics (in crescendos as well as diminuendos) in their attempt to create an “unforgettable” live performance. When recording their music, the band has always played live in the studio and, from 2004’s Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined to 2009’s Hymn to the Immortal Wind, worked with Chicagoan recording engineer Steve Albini, whom they feel accurately captured a live band’s “raw emotion to [magnetic] tape.”

Influences

Mono has drawn influence from various musical and non-musical sources throughout their career. When the band first formed, their main influences were American experimental rock band Sonic Youth and AngloIrish shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine when making Under the Pipal Tree and One Step More and You Die. As the band broadened their musical tastes, starting with the album, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined, they began to be influenced by music from sources such as German classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven, Italian film score composer Ennio Morricone, and later Polish minimalist composer Henryk Górecki, among others. Lead guitarist Takaakira Goto has also acknowledged Danish film director Lars von Trier (in particular the 1996 film, Breaking the Waves) as a major influence since the band’s formation, in terms of expressing the different depths and heights of emotion.

Instrumentation

Instruments of the band (2007 at the Crocodile Cafe)

In terms of instrumentation, Mono is a four-piece instrumental rock band. Goto, the group’s lead guitarist, uses a 1966 Fender Jazzmaster through BossDanelectroSiB, and Morley effects pedals, into a Fender Twin, a Marshall JCM 2000 head, and a Marshall cabinet for amplification. Yoda, the rhythm guitarist, uses a 1974 Fender Stratocaster through Boss, Tech 21 and Pro Co effects pedals, into a Fender Twin for amplification. Kunishi, the group’s bass guitarist, pianist and occasional guitarist uses a 1966 Gibson EB-3 through Boss, TC Electronic, and Tech 21 effects pedals, into an Ampeg B2-R head and a Sunn bass cabinet, as well as a Fender Rhodes, and a Fender Jazzmaster. Takada, the drummer, uses a four-piece 1970s Ludwig drum kit, with ZildjianSabian, and Paiste cymbals, as well as a Korg microKORG synthesizer.

As the band’s career has progressed, they have incorporated string sections on record, beginning with Under the Pipal Tree, which featured use of cello, continuing with One Step More and You Die and Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined which both featured string quartets, and You Are There, which featured a string quintet. On Hymn to the Immortal Wind, the band made use of a 28-piece chamber orchestra.

Mono (left to right): Yoda, Takada, Tamaki, Taka.
Discography
Studio albums
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/60/Mo...
Under the Pipal Tree is the debut album by Japanese post-rock band Mono, it was released in 2001 by Japan’s Tzadik Records
Tokyo, Japan’s Mono are a peculiar group. While most bands offer up their sincerest and most genuine recordings in their infancy and spend the rest of their careers trying desperately to rediscover their youthful energy, Mono’s trajectory has been quite the opposite. Their early recordings are a visceral homage to their past and present heroes – the documents of a band boasting an impressive symphony of sound in spite of their relatively small line-up. These days, they have become one of the most passionately aggressive rock bands of the last decade, executing their soaring crescendos, titanic sheets of distortion and dark melodies with the delicacy and precision of a folded paper crane. This flourish of hopeful creativity was captured by Steve Albini in the form of the eight pieces that make up their third album, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined. More lush and orchestral than previous recordings, the album couples an overall slow-melting ambience with a thunderous drive that reaches far greater heights than the band’s earlier work.
credits
released April 14, 2004

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass
Yoda – Guitar
Yasunori Takada – Drums
Captured to tape by Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studios in Chicago, IL, You Are There extends the cinematic drama of 2003’s Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined (also recorded by Albini), while surpassing the sinister heaviness of 2002’s lauded One Step More and You Die. MONO disproves the myth that an increased focus on intricate song structures and string arrangements comes at the expense of youthful energy and inspired aggression. With You Are There, MONO’s representation of tragedy comes with an inherent joy, delivered with the hope that in all dark there is equal parts light. They’re not heavy like Black Sabbath – they’re heavy like Beethoven.
credits
released March 15, 2006

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass
Yoda – Guitar
Yasunori Takada – Drums
Just in time for their 10-year anniversary, MONO return with their fifth studio album, the absolutely massive Hymn To The Immortal Wind. The music is naturally majestic, with MONO’s trademark wall of noise crashing beautifully against the largest chamber orchestra the band has ever enlisted. The instrumentation is vast, incorporating strings, flutes, organ, piano, glockenspiel and tympani into their standard face-melting set-up. While Hymn continues to mine the cinematic drama inherent in all of MONO’s music, the dynamic shifts now come more from dark-to-light instead of quiet-to-loud. The maturity to balance these elements so masterfully has become MONO’s strongest virtue – save for perhaps their uncanny ability to sound every bit like a plane crashing into a Beethoven concert.
credits
released March 4, 2009

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass, Piano, Harpsichord, Glockenspiel
Yoda – Guitar, Hammond B3 organ
Yasunori Takada – Drums, Tympani, Cymbals, Glockenspiel

Orchestra:
Dave Max Crawford, Paul Von Mertens – Conductor
Mark Anderson, Mellisa Bach, Alison Chesley, Wendy Cotton, Margaret Daly, Michael Duggan, Katherine Hughes, Jill Kaeding, Ellen O’Hayer, Richard Yeo – Cello
Eille Bakkum – Viola
Inger Petersen Carle, Carol Kalvonjian, Carmen Llop Kassinger, Jody Livo, Steve Winkler, Susan Voelz, Jeff Yang, Chie Yoshinaka – Violin
Andra Kulans – Violin, Viola
Vannia Phillips, John Sagos, Ben Wedge – Viola
Jennifer Clippert, Mary Stolper – Flute
Kent Kessler – Contrabass
After years of exploring, searching ourselves, and composing pieces here and there, we found ourselves with more questions than answers. When we could not find these answers in the outside world, we were bound to turn inward. And so we went back to our roots.

This is something we wanted to do while we still have the chance. What cannot be explained in words to parents, we hope can be captured by these songs.

We hope that this album serves as a gift from child to parent. While everything else continues to change, this love remains a constant throughout time.
credits
released September 4, 2012

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass, Piano, Glockenspiel
Yoda – Guitar
Yasunori Takada – Drums, Glockenspiel, Timpani, Tubular Bell, Gong

Production:
Henry Hirsch – Recorded
Rachel Alina – Assisted
Fred Weaver – Mixed
Bob Weston – Mastered

The Holy Ground Orchestra:
Jeff Milarsky – Conductor
Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, Emily Ondracek, Patti Kilroy – Violin 1
Conrad Harris, Ben Russel, Caroline Shaw, Amanda Lo – Violin 2
Caleb Burhans, Nadia Sirota, Erin Wight, Jeanann Dara – Viola
Clarice Jensen, Brian Snow – Cello 1
Caitlin Sullivan, Laura Metcalf – Cello 2
Logan Coale – Bass
Shayna Dunkelman – Timpani
Yuri Yamashita – Cymbals
  • The Last Dawn (2014)
The Last Dawn is the first of these two companion albums, and is the “lighter” of the two, thematically and melodically. It contains undoubtedly some of MONO’s strongest songs ever, drawing on an array of influences from minimalist film score to vintage shoegaze. It is MONO at their absolute purest, executing an uncanny, unspoken dialogue with each other without the dozens of stringed instruments that have been so prominent throughout their catalog. The songs are also noticeably more efficient – there hasn’t been a MONO full-length record to fit on a single slab of vinyl since 2003’s One Step More And You Die – and the album benefits immeasurably from this streamlined approach. MONO have always been masters of telling compelling stories without words. But now they’ve proven they can do it without frills, too.
credits
released October 24, 2014

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass, Piano, Glockenspiel
Yoda – Guitar
Yasunori Takada – Drums, Glockenspiel, Timpani

Guest:
Danielle Karppala – Cello
Andrew Simpson – Cello
Emily Grace Karosas – Violin
Walker Konkle – Violi
  • Rays of Darkness (2014)
Rays of Darkness is the first MONO album in 15 years to feature no orchestral instruments whatsoever. That fact alone is remarkable given the band’s reputation for sweeping, dramatic instrumentals that recall Oscar-worthy film scores. Instead, Rays of Darkness more closely resembles a jet engine taking off inside a small, crowded auditorium. It is MONO’s blackest album ever, a collection of scorched riffs, doom rhythms, and an unexpected contribution from post-hardcore pioneer Tetsu Fukagawa of Envy. The album ends with the smoldering wreckage of distorted guitars and ominous drones playing out a eulogy to the days when MONO shot blinding rays of light through seemingly endless darkness.
credits
released October 24, 2014

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass
Yoda – Guitar
Yasunori Takada – Drums

Guest:
Tetsu Fukagawa (envy) – Voice
Jacob Valenzuela (Calexico) – Trumpets
  • Requiem for Hell (2016)
MONO are a band driven by intangible conflicts. Their albums have found inspiration in the inescapable coexistence
of love and loss, faith and hopelessness, light and darkness. Fittingly, their new album, Requiem For Hell, incorporates all of those conflicts into the one universal inevitability in life: Birth, and death.

Requiem For Hell finds MONO returning to longtime friend and collaborator, Steve Albini. After MONO and Albini’s band, Shellac, toured Japan together last year, they realized how much they missed the (often wordless) creative dialogue they shared during the making of many of their most memorable albums – beginning with Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky… (2004) and culminating with Hymn To Immortal Wind (2009). The rebirth of the Albini collaboration for Requiem For Hell also coincided with the birth of a close friend’s first child, whose actual in utero heartbeat serves as the foundation for the aptly named “Ely’s Heartbeat.” For MONO, it all felt so right, so inevitable.

Requiem For Hell is undeniably heavier and scarier than most of MONO’s output to this point – hear the dizzying 18- minute title track for example – but it also carries some of their most sublime moments. This dichotomy is how one band’s obsession with conflict has manifested itself into one of underground music’s simultaneously quietest and loudest catalogs.
credits
released October 14, 2016
  • Nowhere Now Here (2019)
The conflict and correlation between dark and light is a universal theme with a historically rich history. Musically, perhaps no band in the 21st Century has mined that relationship more consistently or effectively than Japan’s MONO.

Across 10 albums in 20 years, MONO have convincingly reflected the quietest and most chaotic parts of life through their music. Their ever-expanding instrumental palette – which began in earnest in 1999 with the traditional guitar-bass-drums rock band setup – has evolved to include as many as 30 orchestral instruments. Now, on Nowhere Now Here, the band add electronics to their repertoire – perhaps inspired by guitarist/composer Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto’s recent collaboration with John McEntire, the beguiling Behind the Shadow Drops. Nowhere Now Here also sees MONO’s first-ever lineup change, adding new drummer Dahm Majuri Cipolla (The Phantom Family Halo) to the core trio of Goto, Tamaki, and Yoda. Tamaki also makes her vocal debut here, singing into the shadows of vintage Nico on the poetically hazy “Breathe.”

The unlikely career of MONO has taken them to virtually every corner of the planet, several times over. Those corners have all left indelible marks on their music, as it drills deeper towards the sound of feeling not quite human and all too human – often at the same time.
credits
released January 25, 2019

Pilgrimage of the Soul

Pilgrimage of the Soul | MONO (bandcamp.com)

1.Riptide 05:51
2.Imperfect Things
3.Heaven in a Wild Flower
4.To See a World
5.Innocence
6.The Auguries
7.Hold Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand
8.And Eternity in an Hour
about
Pilgrimage of the Soul is the 11th studio album in the 22-year career of Japanese experimental rock legends, MONO. Recorded and mixed – cautiously, anxiously, yet optimistically – during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, Pilgrimage of the Soul is aptly named as it not only represents the peaks and valleys where MONO are now as they enter their third decade, but also charts their long, steady journey to this time and place.

Continuing the subtle but profound creative progression in the MONO canon that began with Nowhere Now Here (2019), Pilgrimage of the Soul is the most dynamic MONO album to date (and that’s saying a lot). But where MONO’s foundation was built on the well-established interplay of whisper quiet and devastatingly loud, Pilgrimage of the Soul crafts its magic with mesmerizing new electronic instrumentation and textures, and – perhaps most notably – faster tempos that are clearly influenced by disco and techno. It all galvanizes as the most unexpected MONO album to date – replete with surprises and as awash in splendor as anything this band has ever done.

MONO began in Japan at the end of the 20th Century as a young band equally inspired by the pioneers of moody experimental rock (My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai) and iconic Classical composers (Beethoven, Morricone) who came before them. They have evolved into one of the most inspiring and influential experimental rock bands in their own right. It is only fitting that their evolution has come at the glacial, methodical pace that their patient music demands. MONO is a band who puts serious value in nuance, and offers significant rewards for the wait.
credits
releases September 17, 2021

Compilation albums
Collecting all of MONO’s rare and out-of-print non-album tracks, Gone perfectly (and chronologically) displays their astounding growth, from the modest opening notes of “Finlandia” to the scorched finale of “Little Boy (1945-Future).” These tracks are culled from a series of highly sought-after releases, including the Japanese-only debut Hey, You. EP, their split LP with Pelican, the Cameron Crowe-commissioned Memorie dal Futuro vinyl 10″, and The Phoenix Tree, their out-of-print EP for the storied Travels In Constants series. All tracks have been beautifully remastered from their original master tapes.
credits
released September 1, 2007

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass
Yoda – Guitar
Yasunori Takada – Drums
Split albums & EPs
Collaborations
Just before recording their epic disasterpiece You Are There, MONO began collaborating with fellow Tokyo native and modern electronic composer world’s end girlfriend. The result is a five-part sojourn of neoclassical grace and luminescence that defies lazy categorization. As dark as the bottom of the ocean, and nearly as otherworldly, Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain finds MONO inhabiting an illuminated world previously only hinted at in their most orchestral compositions. Recorded in multiple studios in Japan last year, Palmless Prayer joins MONO’s increasing obsession with classical music with world’s end girlfriend’s mastery of subtle dynamic shifts. Forgoing their tendency to erupt into hellish bursts of speaker-destroying noise, MONO instead exhibits remarkable restraint, stretching song lengths past the 15-minute mark and turning barely-there crescendoes into earth-shaking events. Less an epiphany and more a reminder of the beauty that already exists all around us, Palmless Prayer is a miniature panoramic view of the sea on an eerily still day, the current swaying at an impossibly lazy pace and the sound of a thousand tiny waves crashing all at once.
credits
released December 9, 2006
Exit in Darkness, the new collaboration EP from MONO & A.A.Williams. Out now via Pelagic Records!

//

Firmly placed as both progenitor and progressor within their field, MONO is like no other artist – visceral, engrossing and showing no signs of decay after two decades spent creating waves of beautiful and expansive rock music. Many an artist lays claim to setting the template – or many have this claim placed upon them – but this Japanese artist has long-since simply set their own template. Listening to MONO is like entering another world, where the majesty of the noise embraces you and the delicacy of the space around it breathes warmly in your ear.

A.A. Williams came from nowhere. An EP arrived in January 2019, and a debut show at the prestigious Roadburn Festival three months later confirmed what this first taste of music had suggested: this is a special artist. The woman in black: one arm aloft after the delicate yet decisive strum of a chord, a stillness in the room focused on the graceful soaring of a unique voice. To arrive so fully formed is a feat in itself; to take the audience’s breath away with such immediacy is something else entirely.

As soon as MONO’s Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto heard the music of A.A. Williams, an unwavering resonance was triggered. For A.A. Williams, the appreciation was emphatically mutual. A musical connection developed into a collaboration; introductions were made, ideas exchanged. At the end of MONO’s 2019 summer tour, these ideas were committed to tape in London and the result is ‘Exit in Darkness’ – a mesmeric coming together of two artists from opposite ends of the globe whose creative approach could not have melded more eloquently. 
credits
released December 13, 2019
  • Scarlet Holliday
Scarlet Holliday | MONO (bandcamp.com)

1.Scarlet Holliday 07:41 video
2.First Winter 04:48
about
On December 25, 2020, as a special Christmas gift, a two-song single “Scarlet Holliday”, featuring “First Winter”, was released exclusively via MONO’s Bandcamp, wishing everyone good health, happiness and good cheer in the new year. These songs were written with the idea of new hope for the new year since 2020 has become unforeseeably dark for many in the world.
credits
released December 25, 2020

Written by Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto
Recorded by Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto at Studio Forty-4
Drums Recorded & Mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio
Mixed & Mastered by Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto & Jeremy deVine
Artwork by Seiya Ogino (Ogino Design)

Extended plays
MONO formed in Tokyo, Japan in the closing winter weeks of December, 1999. They played their first live shows at the top of the new millennium, and released their first album, Under The Pipal Tree, in 2001. Recorded live in one day on a razor-thin budget, Pipal Tree was an earnest introduction to the curious magic of a band that would eventually become synonymous with monstrously dynamic, contemporary classical rock music.

To commemorate those austere beginnings – and celebrate their remarkable longevity – MONO revisit three of their earliest songs, and retrofit them with speaker-destroying upgrades. Anchored by the towering 16-minute noise opus, “Com(?)”, Before The Past • Live From Electrical Audio shows the evolution of MONO’s execution, stripping away the strings and layers of guitar overdubs to show just how massive this band can be at their most instrumentally austere.

Newly recorded in one day in 2019 with longtime collaborator, Steve Albini – and mixed by Albini with Temporary Residence founder, Jeremy deVine – Before The Past is as much a declaration of the present as it is a document of the past. These songs, which are now 20 years old, feel more powerful and profound than ever – a testament to MONO’s enduring dedication to their craft, and their dogged exploration of maximum minimalism.
credits
released November 8, 2019
Remix albums
released February 18, 2004
Live albums
To celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band – and the release of their acclaimed new album Hymn To The Immortal Wind – MONO and Temporary Residence Limted organized a once-in-a-lifetime concert in New York City. In association with the esteemed Wordless Music Series, MONO super-sized their already legendary live show with a 24-piece orchestra. Painstakingly recorded and mixed by famed producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, ISIS, Minus The Bear), Holy Ground brilliantly captures every moment of whispered calm and breathless beauty with patient clarity. Included with the album is a stunning live DVD documenting the entire 90-minute performance, featuring live orchestral versions of many of MONO’s most beloved songs. For a decade fans have clamored for a MONO album that matches the catharsis of their infamous live shows, and Holy Ground overwhelmingly delivers.
credits
released April 15, 2010

MONO:
Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitar
Tamaki – Bass
Yoda – Guitar
Yasunori Takada – Drums
Beyond the Past • Live in London with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra | MONO (bandcamp.com)

1.God Bless (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 01:49
2.After You Comes the Flood (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 05:03
3.Breathe (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 05:48
4.Nowhere, Now Here (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 10:19
5.Death in Rebirth (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 07:58
6.Dream Odyssey (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 09:29
7.Sorrow (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 09:00
8.Meet Us Where the Night Ends (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 09:11
9.Halcyon (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 09:14
10.Ashes in the Snow (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 16:49
11.Exit in Darkness (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 06:18
12.Com(?) (Live with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra) 19:11
about
For two decades, MONO have defined and refined a kind of orchestral rock that is as emotional as it is experimental. Their 10 studio albums over those 20 years have established MONO as what Pitchfork described as “one of the most distinctive bands of the 21st Century.” Meanwhile, their live concerts are typically more subdued in instrumentation – and more supercharged in volume and voltage. Rarely is there the opportunity to combine those two experiences. In their 20-year history as a band, MONO have presented no more than a half-dozen live concerts featuring the support of an orchestra. Such events are not only unusual – they are also unforgettable.

Beyond the Past • Live in London with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra documents MONO’s extraordinary performance from the Beyond the Past event that celebrated the band’s 20th anniversary, which took place at the historic Barbican Centre in London, England on December 14, 2019. For that once-in-a-lifetime event, MONO selected a memorable lineup of old and new friends, including fellow Japanese underground icons, Boris and Envy, as well as French post-metal legends, Alcest, and UK collaborators A.A. Williams and Jo Quail. The event culminated with MONO performing with The Platinum Anniversary Orchestra, featuring… more
credits
released March 19, 2021

Singles and music videos
  • Follow the Map (2012)
  • Kanata (2013)
  • Dream Odyssey (2014)
  • Where We Begin (2015)
  • Requiem For Hell (2017)
DVDs

Videos

MONO and the doomsday prophecy in “Nowhere Now Here”
MONO – Nowhere Now Here (2019)
Review of Gabriel Sacramento

In the review I wrote last year for The Nude Party’s debut album, I started the text by talking about how music serves as a megaphone for moods and climates and how it is possible, very easily, to express this through sound choices. Nowhere Now Here, the new album by instrumental group MONO, makes me marvel at this once again. If you’re looking for a track to the end of the world, tune in to the new MONO record. They know what to say without using letters.

The Japanese group reaches the tenth record of their career. They practically became experts in a kind of dark rock, with an air of shoegaze, which maintains deep ties with a solemn orchestral streak. Mid-career, they established a partnership with none other than Steve Albini, who recovered for this new job. Albini, who recently appeared on Ty Segall and The Breeders records, lends his skills to make the Japanese record even more original and poignant.

The band is formed by Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto on guitar, Tamaki on bass / piano, Yoda on the other guitar and Dahm, drums. The group maintains a consistent strength and is often supported by an absurd amount of overdubs and strings. In terms of mixing, Albini is known for knowing how to capture noises like few and for his extensive work with underground rock bands in the 90s. However, the highlight of his work on this album is just the opposite: how he captures clean, separate instruments , with a strong sense of isolation, loneliness and melancholy. The timbres speak a lot – much more than letters would, perhaps.

The production knows how to build climates very well, with slow and slow development, which follows a cumulative logic of arrangements, that is, each section adds something to the previous one and gives more outline to the main theme. However, the production also knows how to let the songs breathe, with a lot of focus on isolated guitar strumming and the interaction between competing melodies. Another strategy that they use a lot is one that resembles the band Red: abrupt changes in the dynamics of the track, whether from something lighter to a heavier section, like the opposite too.

The band also knows how to dynamize the approach, which is necessary, since the sound is very hermetic. In some tracks, they start out slow and sad and resolve cathartically, with a mass of reverb, noise and other effects in the cauldron; in others, they simply maintain a monocordic dynamic, which does not rise and frustrates the listener’s expectations. They know how to be verbose, as in the ten minutes of the title track, and super concise in what they have to say, as in “Funeral Song”.

Even with the good choices of the production to combat sameness, the album ends up falling a bit in this and being exhausting, mainly due to its long duration. It is an hour of demanding and difficult music, with a strongly emphasized atmosphere, which does not give up. Therefore, some listeners will be naturally uncomfortable. To avoid this, they could have focused on the format of a few songs from the latest albums.

It is worth highlighting the performances: Taka and Yoda’s guitars build the melodic notion and are the main actors of the disc, giving voice to the melancholic bias; but the highlight is drummer Dahm. Its lines always appear cutting the mood, contrasting well with what the guitars dictate and the whole mass of strings that fill the skies of the album. His drumsticks add movement and energy to almost morbid and dragged passages, brilliantly. However, the battery also comes with the function of dirtying the spectrum and generating noise confusion, which Dahm also does very well.

If the end of the world had a playlist, it would be Nowhere Now Here. The record goes from beginning to end with a sad, as if prophetic tone, in a tone of foreboding, announcing outcomes and bad events. Or would they be good? Anyway, a good record to listen to and reflect on.

https://escutaessareview.com.br/2019/02/08/mono-e-a-profecia-do-fim-do-mundo-em-nowhere-now-here/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_(Japanese_band)

https://vimeo.com/monoofjapan

https://www.youtube.com/user/monoofjapan

https://www.facebook.com/monoofjapan

https://www.monoofjapan.com/new-album.php

https://monoofjapan.bandcamp.com/

Stupendous Japanese band with a dark style, riffs played with mastery with a structure and complex arrangements very well rooted in classical music.

The performance with The Wordless Orchestra – Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn (Holy Ground: NYC) Live is fantastic, a masterpiece for lovers of good music.

We look forward to your presentation here in southern Brazil, cheers and thanks for the delight of your melodies.

Aryon Maiden

Publicado por Aryon Maiden

Aficionado pela música em todos os momentos.

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