Hymn to the Immortal Wind (3.09, Temporary Residence/Human Highway)
Byline: Peerless Japanese Post-rock
For: Explosions in the Sky, Johann Johannsson, Red Sparrowes
Hymn to the Immortal Wind is a milestone achievement for post-rock. MONO puts to rest the somewhat justifiable lament that all post-rock are prisoners to their art form. How many times can ascending chords and towering crescendos be relevant or memorable when you have heard them a million times from a million like-minded bands? Don't get me wrong I love post-rock, when it is done well those ascending chords and crescendos can have a near religious, transcendent effect on me. Now, enter MONO's newest offering. Their much anticipated follow up to 2006's You are There and their second recording with Steve Albini, Hymn to the Immortal Wind is recorded with a 23 piece orchestra. The colossal musical ideas of MONO are fully fleshed out with an entire chamber orchestra of strings and occasional woodwinds. The orchestra fills in all the holes and simply gives more depth to all of MONO's movements: the pretty guitar parts are propped up and given new depth, the massive crescendos have even more clout as the powerful ideas of classical music meet the ferocity of post-rock. The two worlds coalesce in unspeakable beauty throughout the entire album but the most effective, in my opinion, is the third track "Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn" in which woodwinds, piano, and strings are met by MONO's bottomless musical exploration. This subdued wanderer is followed by the slow-burning then pulverizing "Pure as Snow" where MONO's guitar parts travel from a mournful tranquility to an outright blizzard of distortion and devastating heaviness. Hymn to the Immortal Wind is a rare musical statement that at once defines and transcends a genre. Please do yourself a favor and listen to it unencumbered by any other distractions.