Mono – “Peaceful, But Far From Quiet” (May 20th, 2005)

Mind Blowing Instrumental Post-Rock
Interview – “Peaceful, But Far From Quiet” 2005.01.20

It takes a lot of skill to inspire others with your music. Some songwriters spend their entire life searching for words that will truly move people. It is a testament to Mono’s overwhelming talent that the Japanese quartet have crafted a solid catalogue of highly emotional and inspirational songs without uttering a single syllable.

Mono
Since forming in 1999 Mono have been blowing minds across the globe with their awesome brand of instrumental post-rock. Comprised of guitarists Taka Goto and Yoda, bassist Tamaki, and drummer Yasunori Takuda the group originally came together with the simple intention of creating loud, beautiful music with loads of guitar noise. Achieving this goal early on, they have spent the last several years perfecting their recipe for pure sonic bliss.

MonoTheir most recent release, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined, sees them further cementing their place as one of Japan’s finest noise groups. Building slowly into head spinning tales of hope, at full strength the sound of all four players on Walking Cloud’s eight tracks rivals that of a thousand angels singing in unison. Recorded in Chicago, Illinois by legendary underground producer Steve Albini, Goto states that despite the excellent recording environment the album was difficult to make.

Where as previous work saw the band channelling their anger through their music, with Walking Cloud Mono set out to do something different. With so much despair in the world today, the group wanted to mirror listeners’ joys and sorrows and fill them with the optimism that eventually man will right his wrongs and things will get better. One of the factors that brought about this change in attitude was the compassion and thoughtfulness the band encountered from strangers as they toured.

Mono“Composing the music and performing it was not easy for us,” explains Goto. “It required a great effort to express the emotional aspect of the album. When we released our previous album, One Step More and You Die, and toured in support of it we were frustrated with the situation surrounding us and were more unstable. I think our anger was released more directly through destructive noise or destroying gear onstage. But eventually as we toured more we met new friends and audiences who loved our music and supported us with their kindness. We started feeling like creating more profound expression in our music.”

Touring overseas not only helped expand their fan base, but also provided the group with different perspectives on world issues. Goto feels that these experiences had a profound effect on the band’s music.

“If we hadn’t toured all over the world this album would be very different. Our generation in Japan is insensible to the state of peace because Japan is relatively safe and peaceful compared to other countries. As we were touring outside of Japan, we thought ‘what if some bad accident happened to our family, friends or partners back home while we were away?’ The thought made us uneasy, uncomfortable and gave us shivers. As we made new friends around the world, our hope for peace became stronger. We really felt we shouldn’t start any wars. We must stop wars as soon as possible.”

The concept of peace is a major theme on Walking Cloud. The final track, “A Thousand Paper Cranes,” was inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who developed leukemia from the effects of radiation caused by the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. A friend told Sasaki that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be granted a wish. Her wish, of course, was to become better again. She folded hundreds of origami cranes before passing away at the age of 12. Her unfortunate death and determination helped establish the paper crane as an international symbol of peace.

The band has included a piece of origami paper in each copy of Walking Cloud so that people can make their own paper cranes at home. Goto says that the group were weary about broaching such a serious topic, but are glad that they decided to do so.

Mono
“We included the concept of a thousand paper cranes as a message of peace. To be honest, at first we were not quite sure it would be appropriate for a band like us to take up such a serious thing on our album. But we have been receiving supportive reactions from all over the world. It has been great to see people come to our shows with paper cranes that they folded themselves. We are happy we could convey what we felt and thought by creating this album.”

Mono will be travelling back to Chicago to record the follow-up to Walking Cloud with Albini in February. They hope to release the album early next year. Upon completion of their session with Albini they are going to spend six weeks touring North America, which will include a performance at the annual South by Southwest music festival. Afterwards they’ll make their way to Europe for more dates throughout April and May before finally returning back to Nippon for a much deserved rest. Prior to leaving for America, the band will play shows in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka with their American labelmates, Tarentel. Destined to be remarkable nights; don’t miss these opportunities to witness the awesome force of Mono’s soaring, distorted rock pieces firsthand.

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Photos:
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Text:
Shawn Despres
shawn@smashingmag.net

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