JUNE 27 | WEST HOLLYWOOD—Japanese instrumental rock band Mono, who is on tour in support of new albums The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness, performed an engaging set tonight at the Troubadour. A band of few words, Mono arrived on stage—without introduction or greeting—to an attentive, hushed audience. The somewhat awkward silence was broken with the opening notes of Darkness's "Recoil, Ignite," a track that begins quietly and then explodes into a complex flurry of guitars and drums almost two minutes in.
Rays of Darkness, which features a heavier rock sound with the help of Tetsu Fukagawa from post-hardcore band Envy, is significant in that it is the band's first album in 15 years to not feature any orchestral instruments. In contrast, The Last Dawn is more melodic, such as the shoegaze sounds of "Kanata," which starts with Tamaki Kunishi on the piano, as guitars are slowly layered over her notes.
The band also performed earlier songs, including "Unseen Harbor" from 2012's For My Parents and ending with "Everlasting Light" from the 2009 album Hymn to the Immortal World. Spanning the band's long career, the songs all naturally complement one another. For example, with "Everlasting Light," you can understand how Mono went on to compose the melodies of The Last Dawn. With the slow build-ups and booming crescendos, each song—despite not having lyrics—seems to tell a story.
The band members, clad all in black, didn't utter a word during the set and seemed completely engrossed in the music, either closing their eyes and swaying along to the slower melodies or shaking their heads to the louder ones. At the end of the set, they simply bowed. The words among the audience: "brilliant," "amazing," "unreal." After about 16 years, Mono continues to impress with their ability to take fans on a sonic, cinematic-like journey.
Pure as Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)
Where We Begin
Ashes in the Snow