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Mono - For My Parents

  by Jon Rogers

published: 12 / 9 / 2012

Mono - For My Parents
Label: Temporary Residence
Format: CD


Frequently cliched, but also equally often impressive latest album from Japanese post-rock band, Mono

Let's face it, post-rock (or whatever you want to call it) offered much at the start and opened up a new frontier for bands like Mogwai or the more experimental Godspeed You! Black Emperor to explore. But. while the more original pioneers have still managed to create something new and continue to push the boundaries. all too many have just stuck to convention and a once interesting movement has often fallen into cliché. Just how many nine-minute (or even more) 'epic' songs can you listen to that, brick by brick grow from a timid and shy opener into some monumental, frenzied gut-busting (ahem) 'sonic cathedral of sound' (tongue most definitely and firmly stuck in cheek with that last phrase) that shimmers and reverberates with an ever increasing crescendo? Only for the exactly same format to be utilised on the next song? Over and over. Is that what post-rock has settled for? At times it's just become as dull and clichéd as the bloated rock corpse it was trying to kill off - or at the very least move it into more interesting areas. The Japanese instrumental quartet Mono somehow sit in between the two poles. At times they fall into post-rock predictability but still manage to remain forward looking and inventive too. For the band's previous 'Hymn to the Immortal Wind' they perhaps rather overdid the excess, utilising a 28-piece chamber orchestra and perhaps overplayed their hand. Instead the band have employed The Wordless Music Orchestra, and while their presence can be felt it's not quite so upfront as it was before. Their influence adds, rather than overpowers. 'For My Parents' has an expansive cinematic quality to it, as if it was the soundtrack to an Impressionistic film by Andrei Tarkovsky of a Chekhov play - all frustrated ambition and valiant failure - which is ever-present in the eight-minute 'Dream Odyssey' which constantly shifts effortlessly from shade into light and back again. And a similar effect is achieved on the opener 'Legend'. On the more negative side the 14-minute 'Unseen Harbor' reeks just a bit too much of post-rock cliché and merely shuffles along, going round in circles and taking an awfully long time about it. Admittedly, it builds the tension nicely but it could have done more. And yep, after all that brooding and simmering tension, it predictably erupts into a frenzied guitar assault. How unexpected was that? A bit like one of those awful sitcoms on TV where you can see the build up and punchline for a joke coming a mile off. Before starting the whole process all over again. At times you just get the impression that Mono aren't quite as experimental and forward-looking as they think they are. It might be better to look to some of Japan's more cutting-edge acts, like Fushitsusha, for a glimpse of what can be done. Still, Mono are far from the plain and not to be dismissed out of hand, there's plenty on 'For My Parents' to keep the post-rock aficionado more than content.

Track Listing:-
1 Legend
2 Nostalgia
3 Dream Odyssey
4 Unseen Harbor
5 A Quiet Place (Together We Go)

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Gone (2007)
Stunning B sides and rarities collection from Japanese instrumental and classically inspired post rock group, Mono

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