Walking Cloud & Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Behind
Aside from Tokyo, my favorite spot on my trip through Japan was the mountaintop Buddhist cemetery at Koya-san. Being there among the centuries old gravesites and centuries old trees during a torrential downpour was otherworldly and completely devastating. Although Mono hail from Tokyo, Walking Cloud & Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Behind seems tailor-made for a somber stroll through this isolated graveyard. This revelation came as somewhat of a shock since I’d always read press touting the loudness and bombast of the band’s sound. More often than not, the band reaches for the volume knob rather than the overdriven distortion pedal, but Mono does let the beast out occasionally: the lashing outro of “Halcyon (Beautiful Days)” and the disc’s penultimate flurry of emotion, “Lost Snow,” where the group finally unleash the seismic outbursts I’d been hearing about.
This time around, though, Mono is concerned with the achingly slow build rather than crescendo release. “Mere Your Pathetique Light” positively boils with a mixture of melancholy and hope; it’s hard to tell which weeps harder, the gusting string quartet or the choked-up, feedbacked guitar. Similarly, “2 Candles, 1 Wish” is a funeral dirge enmeshed in piano and plunky strings.
The album was inspired by a famous Japanese story about a young girl who contracts leukemia from exposure to radiation in the Hiroshima bombing and her plight to build one-thousand paper cranes for the gods to grant her wishes. Having never read the story, I can’t say if it has a happy ending or not, but if the disc’s final track does its source material any justice, it closes with a weight of emotion, but also with a strong pulse of hope. And every moment of it is just breathtaking.
Temporary Residence: www.temporaryresidence.com