CD REVIEW – BEYOND THE PAST: LIVE IN LONDON – by MONO

by Aaron Gidney

Japanese Four-piece instrumental Post-Rockers, MONO celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary with a foray with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra at London’s The Barbican.

The two hour live show showcases MONO’s history in front of a sold-out audience of 2,000 people and features a selection of tracks from across the band’s twenty year discography to date.

Rock bands have a long history with orchestras – some successful (Deep Purple/Rick Wakeman) and some not so successful (Metallica/Dream Theater)- and in all honesty, the addition of an orchestra to a Post-Rock outfit doesn’t sound that appealing to me as a listener. Usually the arrangements for the orchestras tend to just follow the band and rarely add a depth or layer that warrants their appearance. Unfortunately, in this case, the orchestra’s involvement doesn’t really seem to warrant their appearance or add that much to MONO’s songs. There doesn’t appear to many musical themes or motifs that the orchestra play across the band and most of the time, they are buried in the mix alongside the tremolo picked guitar lines.

Perhaps I’m missing the point (it is Post-Rock after all) and perhaps the usual assumption of the orchestra’s role in previous Rock forays is redundant here – but I feel that long sustained string parts don’t add much to this – and its the same in every track really.

Don’t get me wrong, the songs themselves are beautifully constructed and the band’s use of it’s own instruments are perfect, restrained and lush in texture – the orchestration just doesn’t add much that’s all.

All of the songs are most definitely hypnotic and tease their way deep into the subconscious, weaving a sense of other-worldliness and constructing soundscapes in your mind. Truly epic stuff. Whilst they do bring a sense of calm, there is a sinister undertone that leaves the soul feeling ‘unresolved’ and adds a sense of tension along the musical journey that often doesn’t resolve until the gaps between the tracks.

I sense some of the importance of the event has perhaps gone over my head, but I’m sure the orchestration could have been utilised a bit better to take the songs to another level. The songs are so entrancing that its easy to get lost as they wash over the soul and whilst the orchestration is clearly there lurking in the background, its hard to not to feel that they were an afterthought. Hey ho, you can’t win them all!

Tracks:

1. God Bless

2. After You Comes The Flood

3. Breathe

4. Nowhere, Now Here

5. Death In Rebirth

6. Dream Odyssey

7. Sorrow

8. Meet Us Where The Night Ends

9. Halcyon

10. Ashes In The Snow

11. Exit In Darkness

12. Com (?)

Musicians:

Takaakira “Taka” Goto – Guitars

Hideki “Yoda” Suematsu  – Guitars

Tamaki Kunishi – Bass

Dahm Majuri Cipolla – Drums

with

The Platinum Anniversary Orchestra

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