Takkaakira 'Taka' Goto - Classical Punk & Echoes Under the Beauty

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8.5 Release Date:2015-04-27

MONO guitarist Goto recorded a solo album about a dozen years ago, but shelved it to focus on his band commitments. Fans will immediately feel at home with the orchestral intro to ‘Delicate Madness’, which tiptoes into the room alongside a soft, repetitive piano melody. This is the 'classical' side of the title and the part of MONO I know and love so well.

But wait. Where’s the guitar? Oh, there it is. About halfway through the track, Goto breaks out some poorly recorded, over-modulated drums and creates a bit of a racket, then returns to his original motif. So that explains the 'punk' part of the title. So far, so… meh.

I understand what he means when he says these were some fragments he was fiddling with for his own enjoyment. There’s a pretty melody here, but the 'song' feels incomplete.

Mourning strings return to accompany a more recognisable guitar figure during the appropriately-titled ‘Isolation’ (not a Joy Division cover). Forlorn… barren… isolated, with melancholic strands of MONO, Mogwai, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

By the time we reach ‘Till The Night Comes’, it seems that this will not be the guitar god album we may have expected, but a strings-laden, orchestrated collection of pieces more akin to Goto’s cinematic compositions for such films as All God’s Children Can Dance (2010) and Snow Angels (2007). And after last year’s magnificently frustrating dual releases (The Last Dawn/Rays of Darkness, the former made my 10 best, the latter amongst the 10 worst), one thing that is consistent with MONO (and their related releases) is the element of surprise.

So if you prefer the introspective side of MONO as well as the cinematic qualities of their music, this will be a welcome addition to your personal discography. Mostly piano-and string-driven, these tender ruminations are as reflective as Nick Drake (‘Silence of Eden’), as emotionally draining as Ennio Morricone’s classic Sergio Leone soundtracks, and the dirgy death throes of Joy Division’s Closer (right down to the Joy Division-ish title of the tearful ‘Emptiness Corridor’), and as peaceful as a lonely stroll through the park or along the beach at sunset (the elegiac, thousand yard stare-inducing closer, ‘Uka – Tenshi no Ibuki’, which seems highly influenced by (and borrows slightly from) Morricone’s own Once Upon a Time in the West finale.

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