MONO – Pilgrimage of the Soul

As a fan of post-rock, very few bands come close to encapsulating energy and emotion as MONO. The instrumental band from Japan cover the very meaning of emotive music and you’ll do well to find a band with a better back-catalogue.

MONO have a way of making the listener envisage a time or a place or a memory and allow the listener to interpret their own recollections of those. I always feel emotional when listening to their music as it is never convoluted or at least contrived to be. There are numerous layers within the sound of MONO and I’ve yet to find anyone who listens to post-rock and experimental/instrumental music that doesn’t find their work appealing.

‘Pilgrimage of the Soul’ is their latest release and opens with the track ‘Riptide’; a beautifully delicate introduction to the album with calm guitar parts and an outpouring of punchy syncopated chords and drums.

Throughout the record, MONO utilise the rhythmical sounds of guitar, drums and bass and offer a dreamlike addition to these instruments through strings, pulsating synth type effects and glockenspiel. With an extensive track-record of creating larger-than-life instrumental tracks, MONO really do excel with a textured and measured record, void of any filler.

The track, ‘To See A World’, has a beautifully precise guitar intro that is accompanied by ambient tones and impactful drumming. It’s a more upbeat track than the previous, ‘Heaven in a Wild Flower’, but is controlled and thought out to a point where it made me feel as if I was on a distant planet, floating towards the stars from a foreign valley; consisting of nothing more than the thoughts and dreams of a past civilisation.

With that in mind, I think the point of post-rock is to let the listener envisage their own journey and MONO create soundscapes and environments in which the listener can do just that. At points, the low end (and almost tribal sounding) bass, accompanies the outpouring of guitar textures and rhythms to create a crescendo of sound and feeling. With that being said, MONO, can, and almost at will, bring the sound right back to the roots of the record with intricate and yet tranquil musicianship, perhaps none-more-so than on ‘Innocence’.

This track is best enjoyed, in my opinion anyway, in a room with no light and your eyes closed. ‘Innocence’ is an entrancement of melody and really highlighted Cipolla’s drumming, with impactful, deliberate and thoughtful fills, running in line with the band’s previous works.

With ‘Pilgrimage of the Soul’, MONO create symphonic and phantasmagorical soundscapes that blend suspenseful basslines, delicate melodies and thoughts to provoke questions. With walls of sound, memorable transitions and a variety of tempo throughout, MONO have created a record that is is right up there with some of their finest work.

Should you feel the need to be enlightened, taken on a journey or just want to experience something new, then ‘Pilgrimage of the Soul’ will be out on September 17th 2021 via Pelagic Records.

Rob O’Hara

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