Monday night at Gorilla. 9:30 and Japanese outfit Mono are about to open their final set of a bruising Asian and European tour. This is not any old tour though, this is Mono’s 20th anniversary, which has just seen them release tenth studio album Nowhere Now Here at the turn of the year.
From the 8 song set, Nowhere Now Here filled half, including probably my favourite song from the new record, Sorrow. What I love about the new record, especially for a band long past maturity is nothing sounds too saturated and old, those continuously beautiful build ups that reach an absolute wall of a crescendo that is just what Mono are so good at. What has helped this in particular on this new album to keep things fresh, is adding new direction to that typical post rock layering and repetition with adding new instrumentation from strings and orchestral (inc. Jo Quail playing Cello on Halcyon tonight) to new drummer Dahm Majuri Cipolla (replacing founder Yasunori Takada last year) joining the original line up of Takaakira Goto, Hideki , Suematsu, and Tamaki Kunishi. Bringing together all these new elements just builds and builds throughout these songs delivering great diminuendos before delivering an ending which I must say does feel like it hits a destination and is very satisfying.
With the longest track on the new record being 10:25 (title track), you can imagine the conclusion to these especially within a live environment which why these songs also sit perfectly in a live setting; brought along by producer Steve Albini who did an awesome job bringing out a raw sound onto the record.
The show definitely felt like a celebration, songs spanning there catalogue from the break of the millennium, a lot of support and hailing from the crowd, few words were spoken from the stage apart from gratitude and gratefulness for the support. This resembles Mono’s sound really, mellow and spacy… with an occasional thump; it’s pure magic. Throughout there full discrograpghy, it has remained instrumental, but Breathe is an introduction to bassist Tamaki Kunishi and her howling and hauntingly beautiful voice, which reminded me a little of Sigur Ros.
This gig was full on, 8 songs in 90 minutes. The crowd loved it and definitely showed there appreciation for such an influential artist in post rock. No wonder it sold out long before the date. In just six days though, they head back out on the road, to North America, before playing summer festival dates throughout Europe including the UK.
Words & Photos by Tom Holley