By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – Trade-specialists when it comes to splitting subatomic particles of sound, Tokyo’s Mono (stylized as MONO) is no stranger to the polyharmonic era of post-rock dissonance. Equal-parts pleasure and art-house, the innovative commune of musicians has been generating massive volumes of their unique sonic philosophy since the end of the last century. According to founding member Takaakira “Taka” Goto (electric guitar, glockenspiel) approaching music from a position of humility and reflection is Mono’s gateway to producing mindful music.
“For me, a composition is a process of going deep inside of my heart. I pull out a bright, shining, soul-like inspiration from the dark abyss, and construct them into songs,” explains Taka. “It’s an important process to continue to remain true to myself, and by getting saved by my own songs, it assures me that it’s ok for me to continue to live and there is a reason for me to continue to be who I am. By writing down all those feelings into songs, there is this definite feeling that you can sympathize with all the people in the world through our music.”
The curiosity stirred by the spores of Mono’s early emanations, Under the Pipal Tree (2001 Tzadik Records) and One Step More and You Die (2002 Music Mine Inc.), rapidly mushroomed under the Temporary Residence Ltd. Record label, resulting in a heavy & heavenly run of releases; Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined (2004), You Are There (2006) and later Hymn to the Immortal Wind (2009). An earthshaking live album, Holy Ground: NYC Live With The Wordless Music Orchestra, followed in 2010 and in October 2016 Mono revealed their latest (and perhaps most ambitious) creation to date, the symphonic Requiem for Hell.
“I have always been hugely inspired by classical music’s deep spirituality that composers like Beethoven and Mahler had been portraying from back in the day. It’s been my lifelong wish to make them co-exist them with Rock music’s big energy and destructiveness,” Taka explains. “I have actually never learned music properly in my life. Whenever I compared myself to some of the other great composers in history, I have never felt truly satisfied with my own process. But I noticed something one day. I think that kind of incompleteness is my true originality. I think this kind of originality is the most important thing.”
Interweaving metallic technicality and lyrical humanity into one undulating flesh fractal is child’s play compared to standing out in a city with 6,224 people per km2 . Fortunately, Taka and bandmates, Hideki “Yoda” Suematsu (electric guitar, glockenspiel), Tamaki Kunishi (bass guitar, electric guitar, piano, glockenspiel), and Yasunori Takada (drum kit, glockenspiel, synthesizer) have learned to dive below the surface to liberate the immortal muse within the machine.
“I’m personally more drawn towards things that you can’t see, rather than things you can see. I think music is a gift from God. I want to portray core human natures, such as light and darkness, and life and death through our music. Every time I write for an album, I always try to do something new and grow, instead of repeating what I have done in the past. This is an interesting feeling. It almost feels like creating a great cathedral over my lifetime… I want our show to be an emotional turning point of life, almost like gaining a new life experience through our music after witnessing our show.”
MONO perform at Sled Island June 21-25th [Calgary]Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined (2004), Hymn to the Immortal Wind, One Step More and You Die, Sled Island, Sled Island 2017, Under the Pipal Tree, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, You Are There