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Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain

MONO & World's End Girlfriend

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Album Review

What the hell? In April 2006, Mono released their instrumental opus You Are There on Temporary Residence and they toured the world in support of it. In September of the same year Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain is issued as a collaborative album with World's End Girlfriend (aka Katsushiko Maeda), the underground Japanese producer, mixologist, and multi-instrumentalist. Helping out with this slab are a string section, a chorus, a pianist, and jazz saxophonist Takafumi Ishikawa. This is, it appears, one long set with each "movement" or division in it marked with the titles "Trailer 1," "Trailer 2," "Trailer 3," and so on. It begins innocently enough with an elegy played by the string section, shifting slowly, purposefully in dirge mode. The guitars begin to enter at seven-and-a-half minutes into the 12-minute opener. The chorus enters in "Trailer 2" with the guitars barely present, but adding just enough tension that the listener knows something is about to happen. Tension is built so slowly as to almost be imperceptible. On "Trailer 3," Mono begins to play as a trio, with drums weaving through the strings, which become more insistent until WEG and Mono set the noise to stun about halfway through its 13-plus minutes. Chorus, piano, and silence add dimension to the strings on "Trailer 4," and Mono begins their swell, burn and release on the final trailer, slipping around the background, creating a taut sonic backdrop until the entire thing just explodes as a mournful, gorgeous, funereal hymn that eventually enters back into silence. Palmless Prayer reveals an entirely different side of this band, who nonetheless keep their individual identity adding depth and dimension to their sound. This isn't classical music, but it's not rock, either. It's something else entirely, which apparently folds into the multivalent calling card Mono have attempted to establish since they began. It's puzzling, bewildering and utterly beautiful.

Biography

Formed: Japan

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Japanese experimental group Mono came together in 2000, choosing to forgo vocals and concentrate instead on atmospheric, classical-inspired rock music. The foursome, bassist Tamaki (the lone female in the group), drummer Yasunori Takada, and guitarists Takaakira "Taka" Goto and Yoda, released their first full-length record, Under the Pipal Tree, in 2001 on John Zorn's Tzadik label. In 2003, after switching to Arena Rock Recording Company, Mono issued One Step More and You Die, a remix version of...
Full bio
Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain, MONO
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