Mono is a post-rock instrumental quartet from Tokyo. They’ve been around since 1999, and they’ve released six critically acclaimed records in that time. Their 2012 album For My Parents ended up being my #1 record of 2012. My very favorite record. You can see my whole 2012 list here. At the time, I swore that it was their live performance that pushed that album from a top five contender to the hands-down #1 album. I still say that my mind was blown more than it’s ever been blown at a concert before or since then, and I’ll also include my conviction that I still love that album more than any other album from 2012.
You can also revisit my post about Mono from back in September of 2012 here.
I found out just the other day that the band has not one, but TWO albums coming out this autumn. “Twin” albums, some might say. Two full-length albums coming out on the same day. The two albums are designed as companion pieces, and the stunning artwork even reflects that, but they’re being marketed separately. Sort of. The band’s website says that Rays of Darkness and The Last Dawn are “conceptually and creatively disparate”. It’s said that the two albums offer “opposing and complimentary sides to a story”. So they stand alone, together.
We’ve come to expect Mono records to include lots of orchestral stringed instruments, but these two new albums don’t have any. Early reports are suggesting that the first of the two new albums The Last Dawn plays like most Mono records we’ve come to know and love. Cinematic, sweeping, pure. The second of the two albums Rays of Darkness is said to be very dark indeed. They’re calling it their “blackest album ever” and they say it “more closely resembles a jet engine taking off inside a small crowded auditorium”
You can and should check out “Where We Begin”, from The Last Dawn. They shared that song a couple of weeks ago. Just yesterday, they shared this song. On the album, this song is likely to be more like 15 minutes long, but the bit that they shared is a 7:24 excerpt. It’s very powerful indeed:
“Recoil, Ignite” by Mono
The first 1:38 of this excerpt sound like any Mono song. Maybe a little sadder than others, but very much in the Mono wheelhouse. In this song, there isn’t a gradual build to chaos and cacophony. Instead, we’re shot out of a cannon right there at 1:39. After that, it’s just an unadulterated sonic assault. It’s blistering. It’s all blood and sweat and snot. And it’s dark. Darker than a thousand black cats. And there’s beauty in all of that.
This excerpt picks up somewhere in the middle of the song, so the end of this is the real end of the song. I love the way it comes to a rather sudden full stop. No decrescendo. No deconstruction. Nothing as gradual as that. Just a very abrupt end.
The presence of the stringed section gave previous Mono albums some added texture and elegance. Since …Dawn an …Darkness don’t have strings, they’ll be purer and more sharp-edged.
The two albums will be released on October 28 (US). October 24 in Europe, October 27 in the UK, and November 5 in Japan. Temporary Residence will be releasing the album here in the states, and they have a special deluxe edition with both vinyls in one glorious package. They only made 1000 of this deluxe package, and there are just a few left. You can see the details and artwork by going to the pre-order page here. If you want CD versions, they don’t have a deluxe pack for that, but you can pre-order the albums Here for …Dawn, and here for …Darkness. Pre-orders will ship two weeks ahead of the street date.
In other regions of the world, there are different packages. Pelagic Records is handling this in Europe, and they offer a deluxe double CD in addition to a slightly different deluxe double vinyl.
Mono will be touring Asia in October, and Europe/UK in November and December. Although no US tour has been announced, it’s probably safe to assume that they’ll be doing a wide tour in early 2015 followed by a smaller US tour in the spring.