MONO continue a strong tradition of releasing albums full of deep, introspective post-rock which pulls on your heart strings, whilst filling your ears with brilliant musicianship.
I joined the MONO rail a bit too late down the line, encountering the band for the first time on their split with The Ocean. I digress, as a huge Ocean fan I actually enjoyed MONO‘s part more, so I leapt at the opportunity to review their new album Nowhere Now Here. This is MONO‘s tenth album in a career spanning twenty years, with this album coinciding with the band’s milestone anniversary. The record itself feels like less of a story as their 2016 effort Requiem For Hell, and Nowhere Now Here is full of the many flavors of the band’s music, celebrating their broad portfolio across ten exceptional tracks.
The intro track “God Bless” is purely ambience and it leads nicely into the melancholic guitars at the beginning of “After You Comes the Flood”. This powerful track explodes after a slow introduction, with countless layers playing off and complimenting each other in post-rock glory. The drums play a key role, not only because of the intense cymbal hits, but because of the massive kick drums, which ooze power and drive the song to a post-rock zenith. Live this apex would surely be unbelievable.
The title track “Nowhere, Now Here” starts out nice and slow, with soft horns introduced to keep the mood somber. Pushing over ten minutes long, this track shifts in pace throughout, crashing into action at times, before settling into gentler sequences. Repeating guitars found midway into the song keep the rhythm, allowing you to focus on the soft strings and get wrapped up in their melody. The song progresses onwards into a more upbeat finale, highly pitched and delayed guitars shaping up against the pitter-patter of the snare drum, similar in grandeur to efforts from Explosions In The Sky. This track is rightfully one of my favorites, due to its ever-changing form and the brilliant contrasts.
“Sorrow” is brilliant company for long walks home in the dark of winter, giving the listener much to think about during the first couple of minutes as an introspective guitar winds along. As most MONO songs, it escalates quickly, but even with that change in volume and pace, it only brings more beauty to the song. Drenched in layers, the listener can really feel the emotion portrayed in these songs thanks to the careful mixing, which really allows each instrument to be felt. “Parting” is a beautiful piano-led piece that evokes feelings of calm and tranquility, a contrast to some of the earlier, heavier songs that leave the listener dislocated.
Another excellent track that sticks with me is “Meet Us Where The Night Ends”. The first 3 minutes are incredibly dreamy, with a relaxing drum beat built over the top of samples and subtle guitars. With a bass guitar tone that wouldn’t feel amiss in a Cloudkicker song, the track takes a different, more imposing direction. The instruments become nicely disjointed and the guitars more distorted, giving the song a hazy post-metal sound, before exploding into a grand post-rock finale.
Some tracks didn’t capture me as much, such as “Breathe”, the only track featuring vocals. The singer was OK, but I found her voice distracting from the instruments. Whilst in many of the song descriptions I’ve mentioned somber or melancholic guitars, but often these can also translate as hopeful, so don’t expect to come out the other side of this album feeling dejected. This record is one I’ll continue to enjoy through the winter. However, I will look forward to soaking up the summer sun to Nowhere Now Here, and some of the most relaxing post-rock you can experience. This is a great effort from an exceptional band, who continue to push out deep, revealing music each time around. Definitely make time for MONO‘s Nowhere Now Here.