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Instrumental Japanese rock band MONO took us on a journey last Friday with a soundscape that left us speechless.

Every gig is an experience. But there are some that take us on a journey. These are somewhat rare. And it was just what the Japanese band did for their audience last week.
Playing at The Pavilion at Far East Square, the band shone and shadowed over our “silhouettes”, giving us something to ponder upon as we listened vehemently to the textures and layers in their music.
The crowd felt different too. There was a somewhat introspective nature about everyone that night. Were we all “writers” of our pondering thoughts that evening? What was to come of the night…

© Vanessa Mostafa

As the band played 11 songs that night, mostly from their latest and tenth album ‘Nowhere Now Here’, the crowd grew silent, as if taking it all in, with some just swaying or “lightly head-banging” to the experience felt. Even for the quiet “movements” and layers, there was hardly a peep out of anyone. It was surreal, and rather beautiful. The only cheers came after each piece, akin to a classical concert audience clapping at the end of a symphony.
Right into their second piece ‘After You Comes The Flood’, it was as though an inundation of textures and layers, from strings to percussion tore through the intimate space of The Pavilion. We listened in awe, appreciative of the soundscapes before our eyes…and ears.
At times, each piece felt like a journey of its own, giving us a feeling of poignancy, catharsis and dystopian-utopian colours.
See also: MONO World Tour announced!
Title track ‘Nowhere, Now Here’ for instance, gave the image of “the end” in a dystopian society… where the initial textures of guitars drew feelings of a bleak landscape. Yet, interlacing percussive layers that followed, coupled with changing strings and chords, brought about a second dimension to the song, almost like another “movement” in a classical piece. There is “a ray of hope” and strength…in the dystopia.
‘Dream Odyssey’ was beautiful piece played live – ethereal and sad, yet thought-provoking and philosophical.
‘Sorrow’ which followed, was the same, while ‘Halycon(Beautiful Days)’ and ‘Ashes In The Snow’ felt like a full-circle journey all over again. Light and effulgent at first…and then strong and beautifully cataclysmic.

© Vanessa Mostafa

We head-banged ever so lightly, closed our eyes, and we dreamt…
Indeed, and almost like an oxymoron, the dystopian-utopian feel in all of MONO’s tracks felt like this. A journey…
The transcendent poetry of sounds that flowed through that night was chilling as it was comforting. The textures were delicate as they were formidable and wild.
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It was a rock concert, but it also felt like a classical one. The feelings were intimately beautiful. Their soundscapes were transcending journeys.
As the talented Japanese band, who also celebrate 20 years of music this year, left us with ‘Com (?)’, I swayed and closed my eyes once again, like many others around me, to the strong shadow-like variegated textures that befell that song.
MONO embarks on a world tour. They are definitely one gig to catch!
Special thanks to Symmetry Entertainment for the invite.
  1. God Bless
  2. After You Comes The Flood
  3. Breathe
  4. Nowhere, Now Here
  5. Death In Rebirth
  6. Dream Odyssey
  7. Sorrow
  8. Meet Us Where The Night Ends
  9. Halycon(Beautiful Days)
  10. Ashes In The Snow
  11. Com (?)