On Friday, August 17th, MONO, the dreamy instrumental rock band hailing from Tokyo, will be returning for their third performance in Shanghai at Mao Livehouse. A fusion of noise, minimalism and contemporary classical music, MONO ranges the gamut of emotions from melancholy to joy, their emotive music charting the varied landscape of the human experience. The listener is carried through a musical journey of diminuendos and crescendos that eventually settles the passenger into a state of pure euphony. Listening to MONO’s music is like taking a solo voyage to Mars, observing your desolate surroundings and being struck by the uniqueness and impermanence of life. “There is a variety of noise music out there and each kind generates different waves of energy. These waves of energy have the power to make people feel joy, sadness, anger, or celebration. We want to create the sound of joy, the noise of reaching through darkness and finding joy at its center,” suggests Taka, MONO’s glockenspiel player.
Formed in 1999, the four-piece band consists of Takaakira Goto and Yoda on glockenspiel and electric guitar, Tamaki Kunishi on bass guitar and piano and Yasunori Takado on drums and synthesizer. Although the band has stuck together for the past 13 years, they have experimented with a multitude of guest musicians including a 28-piece chamber orchestra. “In our early days, we just wanted to create the loudest sound possible so that we couldn’t hear people talking over us. But as years passed, we composed songs with more intricacy and thought. We began to incorporate the classical instrumentation that we knew we wanted to try someday,” says Taka.
Known as a live band, MONO spent much of their early music career touring. From 1999-2003 the band toured throughout Asia, Europe and America, establishing their mark on the international grid. The contagious energy of their performances captures the essence of the band to such a degree that many of the tracks on their albums were recorded live in one day. “The emotions and energies while playing live are the most important to us,” Taka remarks.
MONO’s travels throughout the world have allowed them to translate their varied experiences into their music. The band recently performed at the Fuji Rock Festival in Tokyo, suggesting that, “It was very heavenly and peaceful. While on stage, I felt as if we were in harmony with the sky, sun, mountains, our orchestra, and the fantastic crowd. There was a strong hopeful emotion circulating the crowds at the festival.” Although the band has toured continuously since 1999, they suggest that their favorite live performance was in 2011 with the Holy Ground Orchestra in London . . “Music and any other art form can be at least one thing that connects us. After we finished the London orchestra show, I thought to myself: ‘In this moment, this is exactly how I want to feel.’ I just felt pure unity and celebration in the room. I took this feeling and included it in the first song “Legend” of our new album.”
On September 4th, 2012, Temporary Residence Limited will be releasing MONO’s sixth studio album, ‘For My Parents’. The album captures the love between a child and parent and pays homage to the members’ roots. ‘For My Parents’ serves as a tribute album for their family as well as a reflection on the journey of their career. Although the band has traveled throughout the world meeting various people and engaging in fleeting experiences, the bond with their family is an impermanent one that runs through their veins. “I was inspired by the idea of a young boy spending a lifetime growing out of his childish ways, and learning how to embrace his parents as they became elderly and frail. Even when the bodies perish, they live on in the life of their child. So we hope that this song serves as a gift from child to parent. While everything else changes, this love remains a constant throughout time,” explains Taka. “After years of exploring, searching ourselves, and composing pieces, we found ourselves with more questions than answers. When we could not find these answers in the outside world, we were bound to turn inward. And so we went back to our roots. The new album ‘For My Parents’ is something that we wanted to do while we still have the chance.”
MONO’s tour throughout China hosted by New Noise Music will kick off on Wednesday, August 15th in Beijing and span to Shanghai, Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou. Shanghai fans can catch the show on Friday, August 17th at Mao Live House beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for 180 RMB presale and 220 RMB at the door. Audience members should expect an epic show that carries them through a range of emotions until it returns the listeners back to where they started.
WORDS: MELISSA HELLMANN, TAKAAKIRA GOTO