Mono – Requiem For Hell

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I was in the record store on Sunday, just browsing really and, having been trough almost everything and about to leave the store, I noticed the sleeve in the above image. I had no idea what it was but made a closer inspection to find it was by Mono, a band I already liked but hadn’t realised that they had a new album out. I’d seen one in the store before but it was £32, a little more than I had wanted to spend at the time. The album was actually a 2016 release but I haven’t been keeping up with Mono for quite a while, the only other album of theirs that I have being ‘Hymn to the immortal wind’ from 2009 (which is excellent in case you wondered). This one was priced at £28, again a bit on the steep side but I decided to go for it.

Although a double album, it is only three sided, with the fourth being an etching of a feotus, resulting in the total length of the album being 46:03, pretty short for £28.

The sleeve is nice, with a die cut circle in the back and the vinyl is 180grm. The etching is pretty pointless, as they often are, I’d have been quite happy with a completely blank side instead but I suppose it is easier to realise that this side shouldn’t be played.

Tracklist

A1: Death In Rebirth (8:05)

A2: Stellar (4:59)

B1: Requiem For Hell (17:49)

C1: Ely’s Heartbeat (8:27)

C2: The Last Scene (6:43)

D: Etching

As for the music, it’s great, I love it. I am rather partial to long instrumental tracks in a post rock style though, so unless they had suddenly turned to J-Pop then it was a pretty safe bet for me.

Interestingly, I stumbled across a documentary on youtube titled: “MONO – Journey Through Hell (Official Documentary)” which is the official documentary celebrating the release of the 9th album “Requiem For Hell”. Along with it was a short band bio, as below:

MONO — The Tokyo, Japan based 4 piece Instrumental Rock band MONO was originally formed in 1999. Their unique approach of blending orchestral arrangements and shoegaze guitar noise in their music has been held in extremely high regard; so much so, that the band’s musicianship can no longer be sustained by Rock music alone and was praised by British Musical Magazine NME as “This is music for the Gods”. One of the most monumental live memories of the band was a special set of shows with 23-piece orchestra in New York, Tokyo, London and Melbourne. Their annual world tour consists of around 150 shows. The band has now visited over 50 countries and proudly holds the stake of being one of the most internationally successful bands in Japan. Among their fans, they are revered as one of the best live bands in Rock. After releasing 9 successful albums including a live album with New York orchestra, the band received the highly regarded award “The Marshall Hawkins Awards: Best Musical Score – Featurette” from the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema for their collaborative short film “Where We Begin” in 2015.

Now in 2016, the band has finished recording their 9th album with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Chicago. The album is scheduled to be released on Oct 14th, 2016.

Here is the actual documentary:

And here is the official video of the track ‘Requiem For Hell’, shortened from its original 17:49.

Richard Pinhas ‎– Reverse

bb249_cover_rgbLast months vinyl from ‘That Special Record’ lay un-played for several weeks due to other commitments, which have left me unable to play very much of anything really, until there was a break in the clouds last week and there  was a shower of vinyl, not a downpour, but at least it was something. This was the first album I played, again, I was pretty much in the dark about it but after a bit of interweb research I was enlightened somewhat.

Pinhas was a member of ‘Heldon,’ a French electronic rock band created in 1974. The name of the band having been taken from the 1972 novel, ‘The Iron Dream’, by Norman Spinrad. Prior to that Pinhas was a member of the band ‘Schizo’, but both bands were led for the most part by Pinhas, who also released a host of albums under his own name.

Influenced by the work of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, the music of Richard Pinhas and Heldon is sui generis and innovative and has in its turn greatly influenced the field of electronic rock.

I had to look up sui generis as I had no idea what it meant, apparently this is the definition:

Sui generis (/ˌs ˈɛnərɪs/Latin: [ˈsʊ.iː ˈɡɛnɛrɪs]) is a Latin phrase, meaning “of its (his, her, or their) own kind; in a class by itself; unique”. In the creative arts, where an artistic work goes beyond conventional genre boundaries.

So now I know. If you head over to the Bureau B website, there’s a nice press kit you can download should you be of a mind to, it’s here. Where they also share some snippets of the tracks so you can get an idea what it sounds like.

So what do I think of it? How do I feel my subscription to ‘That Special Record’ performed this month? Well, I think it’s bloody brilliant actually. It is not, as suggested, a series of 4 drones, it is much more than that and it is far too complex and interesting to be just called a drone. It is a fusion of different, interesting ideas into a new whole with elements of prog, kosmiche (Krautrock) and post-rock among the points of reference. It feels, at times, urgent and alive, with the percussion lifting the whole thing from a very interesting noise to something that is more tangible, more easily grasped, and the drums have a great live feel about them. The line up for this album, along with Pinhas is Arthur Narcy (drums), Florian Tatar (bass), Masami Akita (analog synths, recorded in Tokyo), son Duncan Nilson-Pinhas (digital synths), and William Winant (percussion, recorded in Oakland, CA, USA). At times they somehow manage to sound like an Orchestra so full is the sound.

Now this sort of thing, like many of the albums I like to listen to, isn’t for everybody, but there are times when taking a moment to just listen, to lose yourself in a vast landscape of sound, can bring you to a place you weren’t expecting and which you may just like. With this album I find myself at times listening to the intricacies of the performance and at others allowing the whole thing to wash over me, and this is a good thing as, to me, it means that it works on more than one level.

It’s not just me telling you, my two or three regular readers, that this is good stuff, other people are as well:

“Ecstatic psych burnouts from French prog visionary and friends” 8/10, Uncut (UK)

“Maverick French guitarist turns negative headspace into a kosmische positive” ****, Mojo (UK)

“Reverse sounds like rock music echoed out into the stratosphere” 7.2, Pitchfork

“This is music that demands and deserves our attention.” (The Quietus)

What’s In The Bag? (82)

65daysofstatic – The Fall Of Math

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Although it was released eleven years ago I only discovered this album, and band, a couple of years ago. I bought a vinyl copy of ‘The Fall Of Math’ just because I’d heard one track on a Spotify playlist, which I’d liked. To be honest, when I first put needle to vinyl I thought I was going to regret the purchase as the opening seconds are really quite a difficult listen, but it soon calms down a bit and becomes more what I was hoping for.

In recent years I have become quite enamoured with music that is somewhat cinematic, which I think hails way back to ludicrously complicated prog-rock instrumental breaks, and, quite possibly, early Mike Oldfield. There was a time when I had a strong preference for a traditional song structure, something with verses and a recognisable chorus, but this evolved over time and I would listen to things like Yes, Gentle Giant or Genesis and really quite enjoy all the noodling about and strange time signatures, up to a point, it was sometimes just a bit too much.

While it might want to disassociate itself from Prog-Rock, a lot of this Post-Rock does share elements with it, although it would seem 65daysofstatic are in a separate genre, namely Math-Rock, but genres can get a bit silly when they are too defined, I think they should be rather loose. Ultimately, it’s all Rock. So the difference between Prog and Post, as far as I can hear, is structure and complexity. Prog often has a very complicated structure and much noodling, whereas Post is often less complicated in structure with less noodling about. Post is, in a way, minimalist by comparison, even though it can sound complicated, it is often the same chords, building up, and being layered upon by other instruments. It also doesn’t seem to have a problem with drawing in certain techniques from other genres and sub-genres.

Now to get back to the band and album, The Fall of Math was their debut album, released on September 20, 2004 through Monotreme. It contains what is arguably still their most famous track, “Retreat! Retreat!” which was one of two singles released from the album, the other being “Hole”, which was a 7 track EP coming in at 30 minutes in length.

The band, from Sheffield, formed in 2001 as a three-piece, consisting of Joe Shrewsbury, Paul Wolinski, and Iain Armstrong. The line-up of the band has changed over the years, and they have been a five piece at points, but also had members of other bands join them for live shows to expand their ranks.

This debut album is, in many ways, a bit of a mish mash of influences, but coherently so. Take some Kraftwerk, Boards of Canada, Explosions in the Sky, Aphex Twin and Mogwai, amongst other possible ingredients, and bake until you have The Fall Of Math. There are electronics, computer noises, chunky live drums, towering crescendos, delicate silence and sparkly interludes. If you can get past the opening fingernails down blackboard noise of the first 15 or so seconds, then you will find many delights beyond.

There were a couple of official videos released for the singles and these are below followed by a full ‘In Concert’ performance, though not specifically of tracks only from this album. “PlayStation Experience attendees were treated to this exclusive No Man’s Sky concert, featuring visuals from the upcoming PS4 space odyssey and music from indie band 65daysofstatic. Featuring a special retrospective introduction from developer Hello Games.

Here is the entire album provided by Spotify:

9/10

Tickets bought!

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Just bought myself a ticket to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Warwick Arts Centre. Sadly, nobody to go with as I don’t know anybody else who would be interested, but I went there on my own to see Lambchop and it’s fine. Link to ticket sales below:

Link

I also tried to get a ticket for P.I.L but they were sold out. I might be able to get one from a re-seller but that will probably mean paying triple the face value. Will think on it.