Release Date 17th September 2021
Label Pelagic Records
For Fans Of Mogwai, Bruit, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Over their storied 22 year career, MONO have become legendary in post-rock circles for their unbridled experimentalism and dynamic take on the genre. Now on their eleventh studio album, Pilgrimage Of The Soul promises to be their most dynamic and creatively daring to date. Not content to simply push themselves in one direction, the band also flirt with electronic elements, with fragments of techno and dance making appearances throughout.
The loud/quiet contrasts that MONO are known and loved for are just as notable as ever; opener ‘Riptide’ is serene, stately almost, before its eruption and some of these moments span entire songs. ‘Heaven In A Wild Flower’ uses soft ambience and synths, its construction very minimalist, creating a moment of calm that swells ever so gradually before ‘To See A World’. While it, too, opens softly it crescendos and builds throughout.
MONO’s beauty lies not only in the juxtaposition of loud and quiet but the interplay between the two and how the band get there; the journey is at least as important, if not more so, than the destination. ‘Innocence’ demonstrates this expertly by layering on top of the opening motifs, retaining them in favour of introducing something new entirely. It creates an atmosphere not unlike crashing waves in its final moments, as cymbals ring out and the guitars rise and fall.
Considering what the most important aspects are of Pilgrimage Of The Soul, it’s impossible to overlook the band’s use of textures and nuance; the aforementioned ‘Innocence’ plays with different guitar textures while album closer ‘And Eternity In An Hour’ has piano, soft strings that layer on top of each other as the song progresses.
If there’s one thing that can be said of MONO in 2021, it’s that they continue to not only deliver albums fitting of their legacy while also continuing to innovate and reinvent themselves. The ebb and flow within and between songs is effortless and though the loud/quiet dynamics may seem somewhat toned down – with the exception of ‘Riptide’ – it’s ultimately for the benefit of the album. Less jarring, this feels like a natural progression of their sound and even without lyrics, weaves tales full of splendour and beauty.
Rating : 7/10
Recommended tracks: Riptide, Innocence, To See A World