MONO have spent nearly 15 years sculpting the sort of post-rock peaks and valleys that belong in wistful film scores and cool kid-courting concert halls. Look no further than their live Holy Ground LP for evidence of the latter; released a couple records ago, it captured the Japanese quartet alongside the 24-piece Wordless Music Orchestra in a performance that pounded the wooden pews of New York’s Ethical Culture Hall and made the concept of “neo-classical music” sound utterly majestic and profoundly metal.
MONO could have quit the tear duct-tapping instrumental racket that night and felt perfectly fine about it, for they sounded at the peak of their powers from my vantage point — near the stage right speakers and in serious need of earplugs. And yet the group unveiled the glacial movements of For My Parents instead, answering the question of “what’s next?” with five songs that stretched across entire album sides.
Now MONO have expanded their widescreen world even further with The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness, a pair of loosely linked LPs — both due out October 28 through Temporary Residence Ltd. — that “act as both opposing and complementary sides to a story.” Thematically speaking, The Last Dawn acts as part one, a lighter-hearted, “streamlined” lead-in to the despondent guitar lashings that drive Rays of Darkness.
In the premiere below, we ease into the fire ever-so-slowly with “Where We Begin,” feeling its warmth before the album’s merciless other half incinerates us all…
The Last Dawn:
1. The Land Between Tides / Glory
4. Elysian Castles
5. Where We Begin
6. The Last Dawn
Rays of Darkness:
1. Recoil, Ignite
3. The Hand That Holds the Truth
4. The Last Rays