Mono fans, rejoice! Lead guitarist Takaakira “Taka” Goto is now set to unveil his debut album, a work that didn’t sound at all like Mono when it was conceived, but sounds a lot more like Mono now. The band’s shift from pure post-rock to orchestral post-rock may have had its origins in this work, Classical Punk and Echoes Under the Beauty, composed back in 2003 and re-mastered for release in 2015. Oddly enough, this already makes it the second post-rock album we’ve reviewed this year that was recorded a decade ago and kept under wraps; the first was The Boats’ Segundo.
While Mono fans will enjoy this album – newer fans for the glimpse into the past and older fans for the “lost project” vibe – it’s not just an album for Mono fans, or even for post-rock fans. Grounded in piano and awash in strings, Classical Punk borrows much from the field of modern composition. Guitars, feedback and drums are present, yet often content to serve backing roles. The ivories of opener “Delicate Madness” even share melodic and melancholic sympathies with Yaz’ “Winter Kills”; all that’s lacking is Alison Moyet.
Taka’s film interests are obvious; not only have Mono tracks inspired short films of their own, but Taka has scored a trio of films since this work was recorded, and the LP itself was inspired by the wrenching “Breaking the Waves,” the movie that made Emily Watson famous and later enticed Björk (to her later regret) to work with Lars von Trier on “Dancer in the Dark.” If this album is in fact a love letter to the director, we hope he’ll answer; it’s the right time for a turn in fortune.
One can already imagine the scenes: a lonely woman walks the beach as “Isolation” plays, the audience still unaware of what she is walking from; the camera slowly (very slowly, remember, it’s von Trier) retraces her steps, tracking back to an open door, a discarded necklace, a child’s shoe …
Now we flash forward in time. The woman has changed her hair color. She’s gained some weight. She’s dancing, lost in the moment, as “Till the Night Comes” surges in the background. She seems to be the envy of a particular young man, whom we take to be her husband. But at 1:32, everything drops out but the bass, and her real husband enters. The light leaves her eyes. The young man retreats to a fold of shadows, nervously tapping his jacket pocket. Then at 3:09, the couple returns home, only to find an outstretched arm holding a gun; yet no face is revealed.
A few minutes later, the woman is back at the party, glancing around nervously, no paramour in sight. For the brief 1:42 of “Muse,” the camera traces the outline of the violin, slowly working its way down the bow, then follows the sound out an open window until it catches the ears of a new couple. She is wearing the necklace found in the opening scene (although you won’t catch this until the second time you see the movie). As the mournful “Silence of Eden” begins to play, we return to that fateful night, as all secrets are revealed: the disabled baby, the sympathetic sister, the unimaginable action (later, the actress will be in therapy), the soft, soft shore.
Taka’s yearning melodies are especially suited to cinema, as they offer simple, memorable themes embedded in shimmering waves of reverb: the overt and covert commingled. Classical Punk doesn’t need a movie in order to be effective, but many movies need better scores; directors reading these pages, take note. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 27 April
Pelagic Records has generously given A Closer Listen the track premiere of “Till the Night Comes.” Enjoy this album highlight below!