MONO's 2014 musical offering is a departure from all that's gone before. It is the sound of a band heading in different directions, and coming together all at once. It is the sound of a band exploring their dark side and opening up to the light simultaneously.
Since the dawn of MONO - where Under The Pipal Tree laid out their intentions in frenetic psychedelia - , right the way through to 2012’s For My Parents, their blissful path of musical meanderings grew ever more lavish. MONO evolved into an orchestral rock band and performed in prestigious venues in New York, London and Tokyo, with renowned orchestras by their sides. Following a wave of creative peaks, MONO regrouped and planned where to go next.
This departure comes in the form of two albums; The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness.
Together but different. Side by side but opposites.
The twin albums were recorded concurrently, yet conceptually and creatively, they are worlds apart. They are two sides to a story, but they remain hand in hand. Themes that have permeated MONO’s previous output are revisited through the conjoined albums: hope and hopelessness, love and loss, immense joy and unspeakable pain. Whilst one hand soothes, the other wreaks havoc.
RAY OF DARKNESS is the more ominous and brooding beast. Notable for the absence of MONO’s near-trademark orchestral instruments, this album leans heavily on the aggression of blistering riffs, jarring angles, and a doom-layered undertone.
Another dynamic is added by the involvement of post-hardcore pioneer, Tetsu Fukagawa of Envy; Tetsu provides vocals, for the first time ever on a MONO recording. The crescendos here seem all the more threatening, and the diminuendos feel that much more bleak.
When asked why MONO were releasing two album instead of, perhaps, one longer one, Taka simply says "There were black and white sides inside of me, like darkness and hope. It could not fit on one album."
The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness were recorded in May 2014, in Pennsylvania, USA, produced by MONO and engineered by Fred Weaver.