Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined CD - Temporary Residence

Taking a cover phrase from 2003ís One Step More and You Die as title, Tokyo's Mono breathe startling new life into their instrumental meditations on this, their third album. Gone are the seventies space rock jams of that record, as well as the heavy Mogwai indebtedness of their first album. Produced by Steve Albini, the barrage of noise characteristic of earlier work has been amply supplemented with strings and tender breaks of vulnerability, rendering this recording a study in dynamic extremes, aural textures and emotional timbre. The record presents as song-cycle, dealing, among other things, with the death of an 11-year-old girl who contracted leukemia as a result of the Hiroshima bombing. That piece, "A Thousand Paper Cranes," closes the record, and far from being morbid, offers salvation through child-like faith and ritual undoing, given voice by acoustic piano and trilled guitar lines. "Halcyon (Beautiful Days)" rises from an eerie sostenuto to a repeated gentle guitar pattern echoed in a cello harmony line. Slowly a wall of growling guitars threatens to overwhelm the structure, the building tension ultimately resolving as the song closes under an achingly nostalgic violin. And, similarly, the other songs here: beauty and the beast. It's not like a number of bands aren't speaking this language, but Mono have made an exceptionally gorgeous contribution to the conversation. (Michael Meade)



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