Sometimes you wish you were transplanted into a soundtrack. This gig was certainly one of those times, where the roughly-300-strong crowd of mostly indie kids and post-rockers, crammed in a quasi-moshpit smack in front of Zouk’s stage, was transported into a dreamlike sonic landscape.
The quartet of drummer Yasunori Takada, bassist Tamaki Kunishi and guitarists Takaakira Goto and Yoda from Mono strode onto stage wearing stern expressions and never spoke a word to the audience, but the intensity from their dreamy blend of brooding anthems which encompassed eclectic influences from genres like classical music, shoegaze, post-rock and Philip Glassque minimalism, certainly more than made up for the pallor on their faces(sometimes they made you wonder if they preferred playing with their backs facing the stage despite a decade of playing together and touring extensively around the world).
We were expecting a much improved aural experience from their inaugural gig in July 2008, and boy were we satisfied. With the impeccable knob-twiddling of sound engineer Noel Ford, who has worked with the likes of Boris and Dinosaur Jr., the essence of Mono’s unique sound was expertly distilled, juxtaposing shimmery sounds against distortion-heavy pounding elements seamlessly.
Starting out with the massive slow burning jam “Burial at the Sea” from their fifth studio album Hymn To the Immortal Wind, we noticed a crowd that was rhythmically swaying along with eyes closed; this was probably the best way to feel the sheer cinematic magnitude and emotionally charged sounds emanating from the stage, like a sonic nuclear bomb detonating in our pulsing hearts.
The entire night was all about quiet beginnings and turbulent endings as Mono went for broke with killer renditions of their staples like “Ashes in the Snow,” “Follow the Light” and “Everlasting Light” from their last album. As the night drove on, the quartet amped their theatrics (sans even a muted thank you) with guitarists Goto and Yoda wrestling for the limelight by sparring in a rasping counter-melody battle from their lead and rhythm guitars.
We only wished the visuals played on the background were not as monotonous and clichéd as gray skies and vast frontierland vistas.