Album Reviews

Mono – For My Parents

on September 13, 2012, 7:58am
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Here’s how Simon Reynolds laid it out in the May 1994 issue of Wire: “Post-rock means using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes, using guitars as facilitators of timbres and textures rather than riffs and power chords.” Under this definition, Japanese quartet Mono are at best half post-rock at this point. Might you be reminded that 2009’s Steve Albini-produced Hymn to the Immortal Wind not only featured heaves of that traditional rock instrumentation (Takaakira Goto’s and Hideki Suematsu’s guitars, Tamaki Kunishi’s bass, Yasunori Takada’s drums), but also cellos, flutes, violas, contrabasses, and more.

In fact, the tag found on the band’s current press releases is “neoclassical.” But if the idea of post-rock conflating with that particular genre brings to mind, like, Yngwie Malmsteen, rest assured: The new For My Parents is much, much more than Stratocasting gusto. For glaring evidence of that, look to the 14-minute “Unseen Harbor”. The first few minutes start out subtle, only to give way to slingshotting guitar and airy melodies so powerful and beautiful that it’s only a minor letdown when nothing else on the album comes close to its Emmerich-ian grandeur.

That said, things are still pretty astonishing elsewhere. Opener “Legend” ascends to similar heights, albeit without the same breathtaking sustenance, while the more economical (read: eight-minute) “Dream Odyssey” uses steady piano and more pronounced drums to get to its own heavenly summit. These tracks and the three others still follow the typical Mono recipe: start with light guitars and/or strings, thicken for as many as 11 or 12 minutes, then flash fry with churning guitar leads. For My Parents isn’t likely to go down with your Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanadas or Spiderlands, but there are times when it seems to break new ground, amounting to maximal yet clearly produced spectacle that only a band as musically cognizant and technically fluent as Mono could muster.

Essential Tracks: “Legend”, “Unseen Harbor”

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