Review Summary: It's Mono's imaginative visions of nature and effective means of conveying sorrowful melodies that reveals how a band can make even the most derivative styles of post rock meaningful.
Even though their music resides in the more simplistic spectrum of post rock, Mono prove themselves to possess a certain amount of complexity. Priding their music on their imaginative vision, beautiful buildups and bombastic crescendos, the Japanese post rockers often succeed where many bands of their kind fail. Granted, detesters of the more straight forward side of the genre may not adore this one. However, Mono’s alluring atmosphere allows the listener’s mind to run rampant with images of lush landscapes and breathtaking sights of nature. It also helps that the band’s use of strings and tremolo picking are all expertly delivered. It may not be any game changer, but the album reveals itself as an engrossing ride once the final notes fade away.
For the most part, the six pieces of music follow a fairly typical formula that can be compared to Explosions In The Sky. Mono usually goes about their music using quiet openings that slowly grows into a climax. For example, “The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain” features a slow burning introduction. It gradually constructs itself to form a loud crescendo reminiscent of the shoegazing sound. It’s a true testament of what to expect from the rest of the album and Mono themselves. “Yearning” also continuously builds like “The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain” into a massive wall of sound, but in a more immediate manner. The track itself gives off the vibe of being wavy like the tides as it quickly slows down and abruptly unleashes a moving crescendo. The drums throughout the track and album in general are simple yet undeniably effective. The superb guitar and bass accompany the drums as they completely engross the listener into its atmosphere. However, many fifteen minute tracks tend to overstay their welcome at some point and “Yearning” does exactly this. It leaves its mark as it fades with ambient static, but it certainly could have been trimmed down.
One of the pieces that shakes up the structure a bit is “Are you There"” In addition to its welcome shorter length, it has quite the gentle start. The strings swell in a more low key manner and the cymbals gingerly simmer. As a whole, it places less of an emphasis on colossal crescendos in favor of a subtler terrain. It’s driven by textures and more soothing notes as opposed to the normal bombastic ones during the climaxes. “A Heart Has Asked for the Pleasure” and “The Remains of the Day” also prove themselves as more contained than normal. “A Heart Has Asked for the Pleasure” gives the listener a moment to breath with its gentle guitar playing. “The Remains of the Day” functions a bit differently though, as sorrowful strings and melancholy piano melodies deliver a sound reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It’s these briefer songs that serve as a much needed break from the moments that are larger in scope.
“Moonlight” ends the journey on quite the heartbreaking note as the sad piano playing sucks the listener in. It’s all well executed and the climax is empowering, but it functions all in the same way as the rest of the larger songs. It reveals the band’s forgivable use of a played out formula, but that’s not to say that they don’t make it interesting. You Are There
is a fantastic triumph of post rock for most of its length. It’s a vivid take on the genre and it proves how a band can make even the most derivative playing stuff engrossing and emotional. It’s no changing face of music, but any album that can truly bring to mind visions of nature and real emotions has accomplished its goal.