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July 15, 2024

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Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined (Temporary Residence)

By: Brady Brock

To say that Japan's instrumental behemoth Mono in a live setting is fucking loud would be a given. The volume is so tremendous, it creates an effect that is so much more intense than mere white noise. It can only be described as what it may sound like if you stuck the vacuum cleaner hose over each ear. This is assuming that you've forgotten your earplugs at home. However, on record, the band creates tender spatial landscapes that build textured melodies on top of each other until each composition explodes. These are compositions mind you, not pop songs. Beauty is found all over this thing. But like anything with true substance, you've got to get to its core, and getting to Mono's core takes some patience as shown in the eight songs clocking in at 57 minutes. Walking Cloud is the band's third record on as many labels (not counting 2004's remix record New York Soundtracks) and first with legendary engineer Steve Albini. The pairing is perfect as Albini has always had a tendency to push the drums forward and bury vocals deep in the mix. With no vocals to bury and an extremely tasteful and emotive drummer in Yasunori Takada, Albini has fully captured the band in their most accurate and realistic recorded setting. Introducing new instrumentation with the violin and piano to the fold, Mono have surpassed their previous efforts in creating a full, bombastic, and challenging album that feels like one massive and cohesive piece. Walking Cloud is based on the Japanese story, "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes;" a tale of a young Japanese girl attempting to speak with the Gods to rid herself of leukemia by folding a thousand paper cranes. The band has successfully told the tale without any lyrics as the melodies vocalize their own story through sound. Walking Cloud is at times heartbreaking and at others violent, but consistently stunning throughout. This modern day instrumental rock record has ushered in the genre of classical music to a new frontier...and the results are hopeful and breathtaking.

Suggested Track: A Thousand Paper Cranes
Try If You Like: Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor

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