September 9 — “Nostalgia” by Mono (Japan)

Okay. We’re back from the Hopscotch Music Festival, and we’re just barely in one piece. It was a brilliant time, and I was sad that I had to re-enter the real world, but I’m also really worn out. I’ll give a full festival review, which I’ll probably post on Tuesday. There were some unexpected high marks, some fantastic surprises, an impromptu movie-going experience, an impromptu visit to watch my Carolina Hurricanes at an unofficial “practice” at “Camp LaRose”, a lot of beer, some tough decisions to make, one disappointment, and a very close encounter with one of my favorite artists from the Festival lineup. I promise that full details will be divulged later. I had a full slate of stuff all three nights and the two full days. I’m not sure why I thought that I would still be able to write my daily posts while I was doing all of that. I didn’t plan well enough to put some posts in the can for remote publication, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway since my phone was dead almost the entire time and I didn’t spend enough waking hours in the hotel to do anything from the laptop.

For now, I have to get back to work. I returned to my actual paying job today and I had to pay the piper for my Friday-Saturday off by working a long shift today.

Now it’s time to return to my fun job. The one where my only remuneration is getting some awesome new music from “new to me” bands once in a while. Oh yeah, and a comp pass to Hopscotch.

Mono (Japan)

So, it’s back to This is That Song I go. Today’s bit of brilliance comes from the Japanese post-rock band Mono. Not to be confused with the UK trip-hop band of the same name who put out one pretty great record in 1997. If you only listen to one song today, make it “Nostalgia” by Mono (Japan) (2012, from the album For My Parents).

Mono got started in 1999, and they’ve released six albums since 2001. I learned about them sometime in about 2008 from a coworker who was always on about them. Once I finally heard them, I was immediately blown away. When Hymn to The Immoral Wind came out in 2009, I jumped right on board. When they announced the new album, which was released last week, I pre-ordered a physical copy and also bought a ticket to their show for when they pass through here next month. It should be an amazing night.

Like just about everyone who walks under that umbrella, they kind of eschew the “post rock” label. They prefer to be described as “modern classical”, and the fact that they always include a lot of orchestral stringed instruments on their records plays to that. At the end of the day, though, they still use a lot of guitars and amps and pedals. They can say “classical” all day long, but they’re just too loud for that.

Like Explosions in The Sky, Mono uses a lot of swelling crescendos and they build intricate layers and stuff like that to get really enormously big, then they take it all apart piece by piece to get really small. They use a lot of changes of pace, a lot of breaking the songs down into “parts”. So, I guess all of that kinda does make them “classical”.

The vinyl version of this album is a 2XLP package, and I’m guessing that the track listing is different on it to achieve acceptable running time on each vinyl side.

Anyway, I’ll just get to the song.

“Nostalgia” by Mono (Japan)

I received my CD copy a few days ahead of the street date, and I was pretty aggressive about listening to it, even as I was still doing loads and loads of Hopscotch research and preparation. The first four or five times I tried to listen to the entire album, I got stuck on today’s song, which is the second of the five opuses. Is opuses the plural of opus? Opi?

Anyway, I got stuck on today’s song because it has all those things that I love about this orchestral post-rock stuff. So much fuzz and grit. So much beauty. So many times when you think you’re about to crest the big hill, but it just keeps climbing. And climbing. It keeps getting more and more awesome.

I think the big sonic moment for me is at 9:23. After it’s already reached dizzying heights with the guitars and the fuzz, and the strings and the heavy drums, they crank up the strings quite a bit, and everything crashes together in a perfect way. The first four or five times through, that’s what would get me. Every time. Goose flesh on top of goose flesh.

Then there’s the break and the change and the glockenspiel and cello-filled coda, which is actually the intro to the next song, “Dream Odyssey”. It’s not a perfect ending, and while it transitions nicely while you’re listening to the whole album on CD or digitally, it must play out rather strangely on vinyl. Unless it’s not only numbered, but mastered differently. However, it’s a brilliant song.

Please respect the fact that this needs to be played loudly. Forget about listening at a “respectful level”. Crank it up.

Buy For My Parents in CD or LP format from Temporary Residence here. Also, buy a ticket to see their show when they pass through your town.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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