Japanese post rock four-piece, Mono have hooked up with melancholic singer / songwriter A.A. Williams for Exit In Darkness E.P. At first it may seem inconceivable that these two artists could work together, but the swells in A.A. Williams songs are similar to the dynamic of Mono, so it makes for a seamless blend.
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What does it mean when one of the most storied instrumental bands of this millenia decide to link up with a vocalist for a couple tracks? Ask MONO. Twenty years of heart-felt instrumental post-rock ballads and now this, ‘Exit In Darkness’ a 2 track EP made with singer-songwriter A. A. Williams.
What a beautiful EP it is. I can only hope that this will prove a tease for a more substantial piece of work because the two artists really bring out the best in each other. The opener is the title track, a patient and sorrowful pop ballad. MONO’s instrumentals here are as potent as they’ve ever been. Swooshing strings, tremolo guitar and marching band drums are all present. During the verses they’re quiet and subdued, letting Williams carry the song. But for the chorus the roles are switched, Williams sinks into the background and MONO carry the tear jerker a finale. It’s mesmerising.
By accommodating a vocalist it means MONO have to temper some of the worst excesses of post-rock bands. There’s no unnecessary noodling, and only a moderate amount of loud-quiet-loud. Being restrained to atmosphere and ambience for the most part means that when those big emotional punches come, they hit all the harder.
Track 2, ‘Winter Light’ is almost all atmosphere. What Williams is singing isn’t nearly as catchy as the first track, and MONO are content to accompany her with frigid waves. It ends with the most gentle of climaxes, before Williams leaves the room and leaves MONO to slowly fade away.
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