Le Poisson Rouge, New York City • 9/14/12

MONO, not to be confused with the 1990’s UK electronic music duo of the same name, has been delivering their experimental, post-rock spin on instrumental Japanese music for over a decade, with over eight albums to their name. In this current tour of the U.S., MONO drew a packed house of listeners at Le Poisson Rouge for an eight song set that felt like a live performance of a musical score to a surreal Japanese film.


May Terry

As with a lot of ambient instrumental music, MONO’s songs are minimalist with a very loose musical form. The titles of their songs are suggestive of mental images filled with the majesty of Mount Fuji or a barren winter landscape. With songs like “Dream Odyssey” and “Pure as Snow,” MONO’s songs oftentimes start as a low and slow weave of melancholic arpeggios with an influential touch of ethereal Asian folk music. The song then builds up to a tsunami of sustained guitar distortion and Taiko drum inspired beats to then fade out as low as when it started. The core of this post-rock sound is achieved through the multitude of effects processors and guitar tremolo-picking melodies from guitarists, Takakira “Taka” Goto and Hideki “Yoda” Suematsu.

MONO's palette of sounds while shoegazing

May Terry
MONO’s palette of sounds while shoegazing

MONO’s live show is also one big minimalist experience. Since the very first step onstage, MONO showed little acknowledgement of the audience. With the exception of the drummer, MONO spent most of their set “shoegazing” – a subculture trend back in the 1990s, most notably done by The Jesus and Mary Chain, where performers minimize interaction with the audience by looking down. In shoegazing, the emphasis is on the music rather than the performers onstage. Both Yoda and Taka, with hair covering their faces, spent almost the entire set sitting on stools, looking at the floor.


May Terry

When MONO ended their set with “Everlasting Light,” as quietly as they walked on stage, the band just stood up and walked off stage. Maybe there was a subtle nod from Yoda, and a smile underneath his veil of hair, but nothing more. I would have loved to hear Taka at least make a brief introduction on behalf of the band and their music. Taka does speak English, and in interviews, he is actually very articulate in explaining the band’s sound and approach to music. Doing so may improve the concert experience for any listener seeing them for the first time, and left confused as to why the band appears as removed as they are.

Yasunori Takada

May Terry
Yasunori Takada

MONO’s music is meant to provide a sound for the journey in our minds, and with shoegazing, the music is center stage with the band acting as a conduit of something greater. They’re the ferrymen from the Far East to take your coin and carry you across the acoustic river of your own imagination. So if this is a journey that you’re willing to embark on, then MONO is a good band to take you there.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

  • Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson
    Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson

    Searching for the Disappearing Hour (Pyroclastic Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Payal Kapadia
    Payal Kapadia

    Earlier this year, director Payal Kapadia was awarded the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival for her debut feature, A Night of Knowing Nothing. Lily and Generoso interviewed Kapadia about her poignant film, which employs a hybrid-fiction technique to provide a personal view of the student protests that engulfed Indian colleges and universities during the previous decade.

  • Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
    Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

    A classic children’s tale re-imagined by America’s greatest composers.

  • Taraka

    Welcome to Paradise Lost (Rage Peace). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • AFI Fest 2021
    AFI Fest 2021

    The 2021 edition of the American Film Institute’s Festival, was a total success. After mounting a small virtual festival in 2020, AFI Fest came roaring back this year with a slate of 115 films representing over fifty countries. Lily and Generoso rank their favorite features from this year’s festival which include new offerings from Céline Sciamma, Miguel Gomes, and Jacques Audiard.

  • Comet Of Any Substance
    Comet Of Any Substance

    Full Of Seeds, Bursting With Its Own Corrections (COAS). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

From the Archives