Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined

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Tokyo's Mono have matured in a most compelling way. They began shamelessly wearing their influences on their collective sleeve, pushing a heavy brand of distorted guitar scree into the stratosphere of sheer punishing noise. On Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined, the band's third full-length on the brilliant Temporary Residence Limited label, they've transformed themselves into something utterly new. Recorded in Chicago by Steve Albini, this is Mono's most adventurous and unclassifiable recording yet. These eight pieces, ranging from two and a half minutes to over 15 in length, are deeply arranged and textured works that offer stark, nearly ambient textures and frames that evolve into utterly thunderous and ecstatic guitar freakouts where melody, harmony, and space all commingle, collide, and kiss. Nowhere is this more evident than on the opener, "16.12," or the labyrinthine "Lost Snow." Alison Chesley's cello presents itself as an anchor, playing an elegiac yet elegant theme in "Mere Your Pathetique Light," as feedback and six-string dissonance wind around it and create a dynamic that never overpowers the phrase yet incorporates its poetry into a taut whole. By far the most engaging album yet from Mono, Walking Cloud proves that the band is an entity unto itself.

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