I’ll confess now, I have long considered Mono to be pretty much as damn near the top of the Post Rock tree as it’s possible to get. They sit comfortably alongside such luminaries of the genre like Godspeed and Mogwai, and live they are an utterly sublime proposition; seeing their show at The Scala in 2009 was about as close as I’ve ever come to a religious experience.
That said, their last album, ‘Hymn To The Immortal Wind’, fell a little short of my expectations. It wasn’t bad by any means, and maybe I expected too much of it, but somehow it lacked the intensity of its predecessors. So, it was with no little trepidation that I sat down to listen to their latest offering, ‘For My Parents’.
I am happy to report that any reservations I may have had were swept away entirely by the opening bars of ‘Legend’ and by the time the last notes of ‘A Quiet Place’ had faded away I am not too proud to say I was sitting in a puddle of my own tears. On this record Mono have moved things up a whole other level; this is not a post rock album, it is a symphony. I don’t mean that in any hyperbolic way but in a technical, classical way. The five parts hang together as movements of a whole, with themes and coda running right through.
Mono have long used strings and other classical instrumentation to enhance their sound but on ‘For My Parents’ it is not augmentation but integration. They have collaborated with The Wordless Music Orchestra to produce a work that transcends the boundaries of their genre, fusing their distinctive sound with that of the orchestra to produce a single entity that would be as equally at home in The Royal Albert Hall as it would at ATP.
There are specific moments on the record that almost defy my limited vocabulary to describe. The towering crescendo of ‘Nostalgia’, which conjures up all those feelings of childhood hope and wonder, the clash of guitar and orchestra on ‘Unseen Harbour’ and the point where crashing tympani drums roll in over the strings at the end of ‘A Quiet Place’ are all moments of the sort of perfection that most bands aspire to have once in an entire career let alone sitting together on one record. Just breathtaking.
I could go on and on but I’m sure you’ve got the point by now. In ‘For My Parents’ Mono have created a piece of work that defies mere words on a page to capture, it is the soundtrack to my internal film of all of the Murakami books I have read, a fusion of East and West that compliments both traditions. I know it’s only September, but I feel entirely confident that I can say here and now that this is my album of the year. Sorry everybody else but Mono just won 2012.
Released September 3rd on Temporary Residence.
Posted by Dan.