Review Summary: Quiet geniuses, Mono, have deftly produced one of the most beautiful and endearing albums in years.
Mono are legends in their own right. While not exactly paving the way for the other post-rock acts, Mono have been one of the most consistent bands in the entire genre. They've truly polished the formula to perfection, and have since garnered a rather large following because of it. With every release, the band has grown, or rather, evolved. They become more dense, personal, and all around much more beautiful. Mono have reached heights other post-rock acts could only dream of, and have seemingly done so without breaking a sweat.
And how? Mono are not exactly known for their experimentation, nor their willingness to break out of the constricting post-rock formula. The rises, the falls, and the soft moments giving way to the brazenly loud explosions of sound and fury are all here. Yet this has been done to death. We've heard it from the genres forefathers, and have since heard it from dozens of other post-rock bands. So how have Mono become to be know as masters of the genre?
To put it simply, those behind Mono are genius. Pure, unbridled geniuses.
Everything that is the band can be heard and felt behind their mammoth compositions. The passion, the fury, and the unadulterated beauty; it's all there. That is why Mono is such a force in the genre. The brilliant compositions and the organic passion is more prevalent here than in any other band. That is why "Walking Cloud And Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined" is such an important release. This being the band's junior effort, was the first to really include all of what so many find so endearing about them today. Their two previous releases were just mere tastes of what was to be included on "Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky..." The album is a success because of the band's genius in the studio, as mentioned before. They just know how to get the most out their compositions. The dreamy interludes leading into the nigh deafening climaxes are so perfectly placed that it would seem that it took years to compose. Next to "Hymn to the Immortal Wind," "Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky..." features the band at their most varied.
Each song is completely discernible from the previous. "Halcyon" is solid, and features some beautiful strings. Thankfully, the strings are not over used for the sake of over using them. The cellos and violins are incredibly tasteful, being used primarily for texture, rather than for a cheap attempt at grandeur. And the burst of sound at around the five minute mark is absolutely brilliant. There really is not terrible track on the album. While "2 Candles, 1 Wish" is a short yet uninteresting interlude, its presence is apparent. It's just not particularly arresting. However, the album as a whole moves with finesse up until the coup de grace. The monstrous "Lost Snow" is truly a feat. At fifteen minutes in length, the track goes through multiple transitions and phases. Half-way through, the bands signature explosive sound is featured. It's the most passionate moment on the entire record, and truly quite a thing to hear. The distorted guitars pound, and the cymbals crash, as the song blissfully melts away into a calming resolution. It's breathtaking, and truly one the highlights of their career. Wonderfully placed at the end of the album, "A Thousand Paper Cranes" is a beautiful piano track. It's an allusion to the story of a sick little girl folding one thousand paper origami paper cranes, in hopes that she will recover. Like the story, the track is intensly personal and moving. And above all, a perfect way to close the album.
Mono do not change the game here, and nor were they attempting to do so. It is simply an epically, gloriously, harmless record, that happens to be indelibly beautiful. Mono are kings of the genre for good reason, and with albums like "Walking Cloud And Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered And The Sun Shined," it is easy to see why.