MONO: Gone
Temporary Residence

MONO's music calls to mind one of those isolated, tiny tropical islands one sees depicted on travel brochures and that generally looks like the most peaceful place on the planet—except, that is, for the occasional tornado or tsunami that unexpectedly strikes, instantly demolishing that peacefulness with unstoppably violent force. Listeners familiar with the Japanese quartet's approach from You Are There and the world's end girlfriend collab Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain will know therefore what to expect from Gone, a 76-minute gathering of 2000-2007 material previously issued in various settings: two pieces from the Hey, You EP; a song from the vinyl-only split disc with Pelican; two from the 10-inch EP Memorie dal Futuro; a track from the Thankful compilation; and four from The Phoenix Tree, the group's contribution to the Travels In Constants series.

Throughout the set, delicate guitar interweaves blossom into crushing firestorms (a mournful slow-build in “Finlandia” detonates halfway through into a blizzard of guitars, and be ready for the apocalypse's arrival halfway through the 15-minute “Yearning”). The zenith is reached in “Black Woods” where barracuda riffing leads to a blistering psychedelic breakdown whose murderous thrash makes one feel as if one has plunged into a volcano's molten center. During the collection's second half, Takaakira Goto, Tamaki, Yasunori Takada, and Yoda deepen their music's mournful character in the quieter passages by adding strings (though one must strain to hear them when they're almost buried by the avalanche during “Memorie dal Futuro”). A breath of fresh air, the lovely placid setting “Since I've Been Waiting For You” shows off MONO's sensitive side; similarly, “Rainbow” is given over entirely to a lovely string arrangement, while Giovanna Cacciola adds a delicate voice-over to the otherwise epic “Black Rain.”

MONO does need to be careful not to go overboard on the dramatics (“Gone” almost topples under its bombastic weight) but generally manages to keep even its most ferocious attack under control. As one would expect from a collection of this summative sort, Gone doesn't advance MONO's sound—that'll presemably come on its next release—but it does give neophytes a comprehensive introduction and devotees more of what they already cherish.

October 2007