There’s a litany of adjectives that are almost always used when describing a band that fits, however loosely, into the realm of instrumental post-rock. These adjectives include: lush, layered, hypnotic and soaring, just to name a few. MONO can certainly be described using these terms, but what the words don’t properly convey is the profound influence of emotion that pervades MONO’s sound.
Bands like Mogwai stand out from the post-rock crowd because of their ability to convey deep and sincere emotion without the aid of vocals. However, even Mogwai’s poignancy does not match MONO’s commitment.
This dedication is never more evident than on the band’s latest release, You Are There. The album, in addition to featuring the quartet’s standard guitar, bass and drums, also includes cello and violin, which are used more extensively on the new album than on previous MONO releases. It gives You Are There an epic, almost soundtrack-ish quality that’s part sinister, part hopeful.
Their music forces the mind to wander, to paint whatever picture it desires, be it one of impending doom or heartfelt exhilaration. MONO embarks on a peak- and valley-filled journey every time they set their instruments in motion; usually beginning with a lulling calm, then, often without warning, breaking into head-splitting, cacophonous crescendos and then, as quickly as they came, the crescendos melt away and MONO begins building another sonic wall they will inevitably destroy.
MONO has always struggled to convey the transcendent qualities of their live show on record. You Are There comes close, especially during the decrescendos, but the album’s more chaotic moments don’t do an adequate job of expressing the raw force that lies behind the four-piece’s uncanny ability to gnaw at the bones.