Mono return with their tenth studio album, released after two decades of artistic output and this features their first ever change in line-up. Dahm Majuri Cipolla (The Phantom Family Halo) replaces Yasunori Takada on percussion and sits with Taka, Yoda and Tamaki as though he has evolved from the group consciousness. There have been other changes. The addition of synthesisers and electronic aspects are surprising, but handled with such tastefulness as to enhance and assist in the evolution of Mono.
Joy and sorrow, dark and light. The universal truths depicted as epic dreamlike soundscapes, with otherworldly bleakness. Join Mono in a disconcerting odyssey taking you from nowhere, to now here.
Recorded with producer Steve Albini, The Pixies, Nirvana, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, PJ Harvey, Helmet this offering is far more than the sum of its parts.
God Bless sets the tone with eerie, tremulous, drawn out orchestration. Which transposes seamlessly into After You Comes the Flood which slowly increases both the atmosphere and the disquieting emotions. When the drums enter the mix, it is euphoric but with a strong sense of foreboding. Slowly, doggedly, more instruments join the fold. Pushing onwards, purposefully, united and strong.
It was only after several listens that I remembered that a short film in collaboration with Julian Levy had been made to accompany the track. The French director is renowned for celebrating the enigmatic female and has said “Beauty by itself is boring, but beauty as a weapon is powerful.” Combining excitement, fear and attraction in a standalone film lasting a little over ten minutes, it is the perfect introduction to Mono (IMHO). Exquisitely shot, atmospheric, full of dark beauty and horror. It is quite simply magnificent and can be viewed here.
Next up, the pace slows for Breathe. Tamaki sings! Her debut is almost Nico like (Velvet Underground era, with a touch of Bjork), over a pared back melody that would not sit out of place in a Twin Peaks soundtrack (this for me is amongst the highest of praise!). The title track Nowhere, Now Here is an exquisitely emotive piece, a relaxation into a calmer state of mind that chimed with me as did For The Love Of God (Steve Vai). Journeying through different movements, to achieve nirvana through this eternal wheel of life. The delicacy of Far and Further, over a repeated motif lulls and soothes, the comforting thump of the bass enhancing its beauty. Sorrow, is a powerfully melancholic lullaby, ending in crescendo of epic proportions, fading out into a spacey synth.
Parting commences as a piece that would sit easily on Grinning Cat by Susuma Yokota. Piano and string driven, gentle but with hints of darkness. The somnambulistic odyssey continues, gathering force, power and strength in Meet Us Where the Night Ends. Feel the percussion lap, like waves, rinsing away any clutter in the mind.
Funeral Song opens with deeply disconcerting, panning chimelike, then a drone of distorted brass pulsates, soothing, yet inducing wariness, fragile like a fragmenting memory.
Vanishing, Vanishing Maybe brings us to a satisfying conclusion. There are no answers, only more questions.
There is something about Albini productions, is it the perfectly captured drums, crisp and high and dry in the mix, is it the clarity of each instrument and their delicately balanced but ever changing equilibrium or is he truly a magician invoking unnatural powers to draw from the greatest of artists their very best?
A remarkable and masterful body of work to date is complemented exquisitely with this somewhat more synth orientated release. There is still distortion, there is still noise aplenty and haunting melodies, this is still Mono and it is superb.
Nowhere Now Here Tracklist:
01 God Bless
02 After You Comes the Flood
04 Nowhere, Now Here
05 Far and Further
08 Meet Us Where the Night Ends
09 Funeral Song
10 Vanishing, Vanishing Maybe
Nowhere, Now Here will be released January 25 and is available to purchase from here
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