Mono of Japan
If you only listen to one song tonight, make it the truncated version of “Requiem for Hell” by Mono (2016, from the forthcoming album Requiem for Hell
Mono is a post-rock quartet from Tokyo. To avoid confusion with other bands with the same name, they are sometimes referred to as Mono of Japan or as Mono (Japan). However, the other bands named Mono are either inactive or irrelevant.
Mono formed in 1999 and they’ve released eight proper albums including two “twin” albums in 2014. They’ve had the same lineup the entire time and have been one of the most revered bands of the genre. Like a lot of bands in the post-rock genre, they don’t like that classification, and they prefer to be called something like “modern classical”. Call it what you will. They use traditional rock instruments in a non-traditional way, and they use non-traditional rock instruments to enhance their sound. They’re big, they’re loud, they’re heavy, they’re dark. They’re also bright and gentle. They’re very good at the heavy/light/heavy stuff. And they’re very nonchalant about it. They often seem like otherworldly spirits, both in their sound and in their presentation.
Their 2012 album For My Parents was my #1 album of the year (full countdown here), and when I saw them play in October of that year, I was absolutely floored. I hold that show in the same extraordinarily high regard as the time that I saw Stereolab play a 20 minute version of “Jenny Ondioline”. Utterly gobsmacked.
In 2014, their Rays of Darkness album was my #33 album of the year, and The Last Dawn was my #8 album of the year. You can see the full list here.
A couple of months ago, the band announced that their ninth album Requiem for Hell would be out this year, and as I always do with Mono records, I pre-ordered a physical copy. The album hits the street on October 14, and they’ve already shared a couple of sneak peeks at it. Three weeks ago, they released a slightly truncated version of “Ely’s Heartbeat”, and two weeks ago they released an abbreviated version of the album’s title track. Yesterday, they released a video for the title track via Decibel Magazine.
All of the press on this says that this is Mono’s darkest, heaviest work yet. This is on the heels of everyone referring to Rays of Darkness as “their blackest album ever”.
I don’t know about the rest of the album, but “Ely’s Dream” is the cinematic, arcing stuff that we know and love from Mono. This song, though… This song (or at least the abridged version we’ve heard) is indeed quite heavy and quite dark.
The video, in all its black-and-white glory, is even more sinister, more macabre than the music itself. Of course the music in the video is different to that in the 7:45 Soundcloud snippet. These are different sections of the same song. I haven’t heard the album version of the song in its entirety, but I really like both of these snippets. For different reasons.
First, the Soundcloud bit:
“Requiem for Hell”(edit version) by Mono
This bit is the beginning bit of the song. It starts low and quiet and gradually builds to something bigger, louder, darker, heavier, and meaner. The bit that’s used in the video picks up somewhere close to where the above edit ends. There’s a quiet bit at the start before it goes to a much more sinister place than we went with the audio edit. It’s heavier, more low-end-focused, and just flat dark. Hex value #000000. Pantone doesn’t even have a number for how black this is. This must be glorious to see played live.
The video, which premiered yesterday, plays like a really weird art house horror film. Mysterious and creepier than hell. More psychological terror than blood and gore. And we never even really know just what’s going on. We’re not even sure who the villain of the piece is. But it’s beautiful and it fits.
Here it is:
The video was directed by a Finnish fellow called Harri Haataja, who turned a lot of heads last year with a gorgeous, lush video that he made for an Icelandic metal band called Sólstafir.
Overall, this is a very dark and very heavy song. It seems aptly titled. While there isn’t yet an audio file anywhere of the 18-minute opus in its entirety, you can see a video of the song performed live in its entirety at a Halloween night show in France last year. See it here.
The new album comes out on October 14, and you can pre-order it via Temporary Residence in your choice of formats here.