Mono - The Last Dawn - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mono - The Last Dawn

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:2014-10-28

The yang to Rays of Darkness’ yin, The Last Dawn is the more sedate of MONO’s simultaneous releases. Closer to the band’s previous oeuvre, this is the album complacent listeners were expecting. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And while Rays of Darkness may suggest the band’s new mantra is "If it ain’t broke, break it”, The Last Dawn will settle nicely in your comfort zone.

The slower-than-molasses trickle oozes out of your speakers as ‘The Land Between Tides/Glory’ sneaks into the room like a sunrise drooling over the mountains and those “rays of darkness” gradually succumb to…the last dawn? Politically motivated or pessimistic resignation to the state of world affairs, there is a finality to both albums that spreads beyond their obvious titles. This is bleak music for bleaker times and you must decide if MONO are reacting to frightening events or preparing us for apocalyptic decimation.

There is a glimmer of hope as the opening track fades into a calming flutter like a camera surveying the outcome of some cataclysmic event. ‘Kanata’ continues the self-reflective rumination as a lonely piano tinkles in an empty room before the other instruments (guitar, drums) wander in and expand the sound like a flower opening its petals to the life-giving sunshine. This is MONO at their most evocative – tentative, yet encouraging; cautious, yet optimistic. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a train coming in the opposite direction (as Rays of Darkness might suggest).

Contrary to its title, ‘Cyclone’ is not the maelstrom of sonic noise you might expect, but the swirling, hallucinogenic sway of a dirgy funeral procession (there’s that apocalyptic theme again) closer to Joy Division’s Closer that Godspeed’s f#a# Infinity. Dropping in those glockenspiel tinkles also lifts the mood from oppressive to anticipatory – there are better times ahead.

The remainder of the album follows (and builds upon) these principals. ‘Elysian Castles’ literally cries gut-wrenching tears, yet is light enough to reflect upon those feelings of loss and remorse by harkening to the ultimate resting place of heroes who’ve lived the good life – heaven to Rays of Darkness’ hell. And about halfway through the title track, just as the sound slowly fades over the horizon like the last setting sun, the band lift us out of our doldrums by escalating the emotion to new heights… that a new day is dawning with all its hopes and aspirations, suggesting that there will be another dawn tomorrow, another opportunity to improve your life and prove that the album title is just a cautionary misnomer after all!

Unless you’re feeling pessimistic about our chances for survival, in which case you might want to continue on to the apocalyptic raping and pillaging that is Rays of Darkness. Me, I’m happy and content right where The Last Dawn leaves off. I’ll gladly retain these blinders that convince me Rays of Darkness never happened or is just a fluke, a 'get it out of my system' experiment that went horribly wrong. Heed my warning – stay here in your MONO comfy-zone; you don’t want to go there.

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