MONO is a post-rock instrumental band from Tokyo, Japan and one of my favourite bands of the genre. The four-piece was formed in 1999 in the Japanese capital and has released 8 studio albums and numerous other releases (including a live DVD).
Every single one of their albums is amazing but it was in 2009 that they released what I consider their masterpiece and my personal favourite “Hymn to the Immortal Wind”, which transpires emotion and epicness like few records can. Starting by the epic record title, to the song titles and obviously to the songs themselves, every part of their art is like a beautiful, rare and precious magic stone capable of transporting the listener to the place of its dreams or to that sweet memory once thought forgotten.
As in most post-rock instrumental bands, the songs usually start by slowly captivating the ear with simple melodies (often piano and clean guitars) and build up to an explosive climax. This is also true in MONO’s case, but the clever use of violins and glockenspiel in the build up, the gongs in the climax and the simplicity in the harmonies exhume a level of emotional power so wonderfully crafted that it is capable of touching the nerve of the soul and bring the listener to tears.
The band is also well-known for their intense and passionate live performances. Being able to witness their live show I was absolutely taken by how intimate the moment felt and how the songs so easily transpired emotion from the stage, involving the entire audience in an epic journey to which every moment and guitar chord was savoured and vividly felt as if it was the last. The band’s mysterious and poetic posture on stage is captivating and lead guitar player Takaakira Goto is a good example of the level of emotion of their performance. Goto is like a maestro, feeling and following the songs and leading the audience through the movement of his arms, head and all of his body, so passionately that one can easily forget that he is playing sitting down.
I’m usually a big fan of good post-rock instrumental bands, in the likes of famous Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Caspian, This Will Destroy You, etc. but to me this band has a unique feeling, incomparable to any of the bands of the same or any genre out there. Every album is a journey, every song an adventure and every sound a present to be treasured. Magnificent.