Japanese experimental rockers Mono conjure spirits on Nowhere Now Here | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Japanese experimental rockers Mono conjure spirits on Nowhere Now Here 

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click to enlarge Mono


Chigi Kanbe

Mono have been making dramatic, orchestral, largely instrumental experimental rock for 20 years, and in that time they’ve played in nearly 60 countries and released ten full-length albums. Their latest, January’s Nowhere Now Here (Temporary Residence), is arguably their best yet. It almost feels like a reunion record: Mono took a break in 2017 after founding drummer Yasunori Takada left the band, their first lineup change since forming in 1999. Mono returned to the stage and studio in August 2018 with new drummer Dahm Majuri Cipolla, and taking a year to find him proved to be a good move. Cipolla’s drumming is insistent but respectful; he makes room for himself at the table but mostly lets the OGs have the spotlight. The album's second track, “After You Comes the Flood,” gradually announces its presence with a mounting trickle of foggy synth and glassy guitar; once Cipolla enters, his grandiose beat follows the main riff steadily until the song abruptly vanishes into a haze of guitar distortion and keyboard noises. On the title track, which runs more than ten minutes, guitarists Takaakira “Taka” Goto and Hideki “Yoda” Suematsu do the heavy lifting, pushing into your brain with fuzzy orchestral maneuvers. Nowhere Now Here is also the first Mono album with vocals. Bass and synth player Tamaki Kunishi complements the band’s stark sound with her gentle and pleasantly airy singing on the aptly titled “Breathe”—which sounds like a sigh of relief after two decades of hard work. Live and loud is the best way to experience Mono, and the venue for this show, Bohemian National Cemetery, offers them the perfect chance to see whether it's actually possible to wake the dead.   v

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