Mono – “Ely’s Heartbeat”
Post rock bands, typically a very earnest and sincere bunch, don’t usually get credit for being self-aware. But being self-aware isn’t just about making jokes at your own expense or post-modern winking at the audience. Sometimes self-awareness is simply a matter of knowing what you’re good at. In that sense, Japan’s Mono are exceedingly self-aware.
Other post rock bands are challenging their core identity with varying degrees of success. Mogwai and Tortoise are experimenting with synthesizers and other electronic instruments, Explosions In The Sky are shifting between their film scoring career and being a regular band, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are more of a riff-based psych rock band than anything else at this point. Not Mono.
Mono are still out here playing big ass melodies that make you feel big ass emotions. Their songs are long, they are soft and then loud and then soft again, their guitars shimmer and glitter in such a way that inspires undergrads to describe guitars as things that shimmer and glitter. They are the kind of band that writes a piece of music that expresses a deep sense of yearning, and then name that song “Yearning.” Either no one has told Mono that post rock is dead, or they earnestly and sincerely do not give a fuck.
The band’s instinct to always go for the most dramatic possible emotional beat hasn’t always put them on sure-footing. 2012’s For My Parents was a maudlin soup of strings and overwrought key changes, and the dual release of Rays Of Darkness & The Last Dawn was formally inventive for the band, but splitting the band’s heavier and lighter sides didn’t pay the same creative dividends that it did for say, Opeth.
“Ely’s Heartbeat,” from the band’s upcoming record Requiem For Hell suggests that the band’s steadfast refusal to switch it up is working in the favor again. The song, inspired by a recording of an unborn child’s in utero heartbeat--because of course it is--is one of the less volcanic tracks from Requiem. You could call it a breather track, except you’d have to take some mighty deep breaths to keep up with the song’s gracefully slow pace. Think of it instead as deep-sigh track, moving smoothly from one gradation of volume to the next without disrupting its pervasive sense of calm. As always, it is terrific music to sit and yearn to. So tell me, do you yearn?
Requiem For Hell will be released on Temporary Residence on October 14.