MONO: The Sky Remains the Same as Ever
Temporary Residence

Listeners get a chance to put faces to names on MONO's The Sky Remains The Same As Ever, a nearly two-hour DVD documentary (directed and edited by Teppei Kishida) that primarily focuses on concert performances recorded during the band's 2006-07 multi-country tour (France, Ireland, London, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Spain, China, Czech Republic, Japan, USA, etc.) and secondarily recording sessions for You Are There (Chicago studio sessions featuring Taka and the string section) and related off-stage footage (the tedium of tour travel, interviews, shots of the city and countryside). For MONO devotees, the DVD invaluably provides a visual complement to the band's recorded output.

Watch the band as it coaxes into life a prototypically grandiose epic at a Paris concert as the crowd sways in unison to the music's hypnotic build. The band takes no prisoners when it collectively unleashes the assaultive power of its sound, and the enraptured attendees sometimes appear mesmerized by the force of the band's volcanic roar. There are no camera effects and the band's stage presentation is bare-bones; there's no silly onstage banter either, just Taka Goto, Tamaki, Yasunori Takada, and Yoda—three long-haired males and an even longer-haired female bassist (we typically get only half-glimpses of the players' faces as they're bowed over their instruments in telepathic communion with each other and in total thrall to the music)—shredding the stage with one incendiary epic after another (in voice-over, we hear a band member say to an interviewer, “Just listen to the music”). The eight-limbed dynamo adopts a devotional attitude to its playing—serious, but not precious—as it segues from episodes of lyrical delicacy to freakout climaxes of incinerating intensity. During one segment, the concert is engulfed by a gargantuan feedback storm that pushes the band's sound to its bearable limit, after which the music calmly rises from the ashes in a graceful denouement.

Though MONO's uncompromising attack might make the band seem like unlikely candidates as peace ambassadors, that is the DVD's underlying message. During the final section, “The Sky Remains The Same As Ever” is seen on a MONO poster accompanied by the subheading “Fold your desire for peace into a paper crane” along with instructions for making one; subsequent footage of schoolchildren (Atheneum Pottelberg grade one students) creating colourful cranes is followed by archival 1945 photographs of Hiroshima. The skeletal remains of the A-bomb Dome is seen and the band is shown visiting the Children's Peace Monument at the Peace Garden, also known as the Tower of the Paper Cranes (a monument inspired by Sadako Sasaki who died from leukemia caused by radiation after-effects and who, during her hospital stay, created over a thousand paper cranes using medicine wrapping paper in the hope that doing so would cure her). Bringing its music to legions of listeners around the world is MONO's own way of promoting peace.

March 2008