By Mark Derricutt
Date / Venue: Thursday December 10th, 2015 - Kings Arms, Auckland
It's now two days since Mono, the Japanese post-rock juggernaut played Auckland's Kings Arms tavern and my mind is still awash with vivid memories of the experience.
I say experience because that's exactly what it was - the evening was far more than just "a gig", and even more than just "a performance" - it was, as I say: an experience; and an emotional one at that.
Much of Mono's catalogue follow a fairly consistent formula - slow quiet moody movements that build up the intensity and tension of the music, ebbing and flowing then bursting full force into a sonic wall of noise with both complex, and subtle movements shifting and rippling under the surface. It may be a formula - but it's a beautifully, well executed backdrop of a formula with each song adding it's unique imbalance to the foreground which keeps away any sense of redundancy.
The evening's performance entailed 8 songs spanning 4 albums and 2 unreleased songs, however in all honesty I could not for the life of me tell you what songs they were, when they started, when they ended, and what; if anything happened in-between - but that's not a bad thing.
I blame this in part on iTunes and MP3 downloads - I rarely have CD covers at the ready to study and read to learn song titles lately, and those song titles I do learn and recall all hinge on distinct hooks and choruses to root the memories; but it's also the music of Mono - long 10-15 minute tracks that flow over the movement lifting the listener into a dazed aural euphoria that is just "the moment".
The performance itself is a strange beast of thing - guitarists Takaakira Goto and Hideki Suematsu seated at opposite sides of the side, bassist Tamaki Kunishi filling in the mid-section and drummer Yasunori Takadataking the throne at the rear. As the music ebbs and flowed so did the musicians, moving slowly; almost still for the majority of the night except for those movements of heavy crushing sonic destruction - then and only then did the band show physical life, only to return to the stillness once more.
It's the rarity of such explosions that make seeing Mono live such an experience - it's a beautiful, yet visceral thing that's not easily explained, or forgotten.
Death in Reverse
Pure as Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)
Halcyon (Beautiful Days)
Where We Begin
Ashes in the Snow
Requiem from Hell