Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mono are grandiose. It takes a certain stomach, a certain predisposition to go through as many moods as Mono evokes. Far and away the best show at Terrastock last summer, Mono’s live performance showcased the Japanese quartet’s controlled bombast — their ability to hit fortississimo and crank it down to pianissimo in the next breath without losing intensity. Mono’s music demands to be heard; not as filler, nor background noise, but sat with and savored. In the studio, Mono has more tricks to play with, and their latest LP makes use of studio amenities without getting away from the raw power of the live set. There are probably as many strings as you remember, but they’re employed tactically in Hymn, sneaking out of guitar licks, covering crescendos, and in a few tracks leading the melody. Mono have divorced themselves from the sweeping builds of other post-rock acts to assert themselves as a quartet of composers whose fireballs don’t erupt in one grand finale, but harmonize with the soft parts and other loud ones. It’s an intensity and ear that no other musical group has, and no one will have again.