In this year of 2014, Japan’s post-rock masters Mono have taken the bold step of releasing two albums simultaneously. These consist of The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness—albums that the band has claimed would be stripped down of the orchestral nature of the previous several albums, which was a direction they believe reached its peak on 2011’s For My Parents. The Last Dawn is the first of these two new albums and is considered the lighter. The Land Between Tides/Glory opens with slow, reverb-ed guitar picking that builds with the usual Mono/post-rock style and martial-esque drums. Feelings of sadness give way to hope as the slower introduction gives way to the epic and majestic post-rock of Mono. Soaring music—yet still retaining the orchestral feel—leads into a graceful and quieter piano section reinforcing the sense of hope that permeates this album. After the initial press release announcing these albums, I was really expecting the music to be considerably more stripped down, yet in many ways The Last Dawn is not that much different from its predecessors. Indeed, it is apparent that the orchestral nature has been somewhat restrained, yet at the same time, The Last Dawn still sounds like the same Mono. However, the album as a whole benefits from its more concise organization and shorter length. Excessive wandering is limited, while still retaining the best aspects of Mono’s music. Katana begins with reverb-ed tremolo guitar and continues to venture in the majestic and graceful sound that Mono has perfected. Again, feelings of optimism emanate from this track, as if emerging from times of despair. Elysian Castles generally has a slower, more contemplative feel. Subtle use of cello is heard as minimalist drums slowly build with other layers. Where We Begin, on the other hand, sounds very much like an Explosions in the Sky song, obviously with touches of Mono. This song is perhaps the most stripped down of the album. The title track closes out the album with feelings of exultation that perhaps some type of struggle is finally over. Mono’s specialty of reverb-ed tremolo guitar slowly build as drums become more prominent in addition to the aforementioned tremolo-ed guitar. The Last Dawn is yet another magnificent and profound album from Mono. It is not too much different from its preceding albums, only with a slightly more stripped down and purer approach. Fans of Mono will surely need to listen to this, as well as fans of post-rock, yet my usual criticism of post-rock is that it all generally sounds the same. Yet, despite this familiarity with Mono’s prior sound, The Last Dawn surely does not disappoint and proves that Mono has not lost their command of their genre.
Genre: Post Rock
Label: Temporary Residence Limited
Release: October 28, 2014
1. The Land Between Tides / Glory
4. Elysian Castles
5. Where We Begin
6. The Last Dawn