Mono / World's End Girlfriend

Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain

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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.

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