2009 Full-Length Album

Hymn To The Immortal Wind

MONO 20 Years #20

"Everlasting Light"

The album "Hymn To The Immortal Wind" is based on a short story written by a screenwriter Heeya So. She initially told us the outline, and after we started, she sent us the story chapter by chapter over the course of 6 months. As I read every chapter, I was moved by them and was flooded with many inspirations. The last chapter was concluded with the title "Everlasting Light", and when I finished reading it, the whole song just came into my head. To create the perfect ending for the album, I strongly felt that the song must be wrapped in a strong light, filled with enormous courage and hope. I still remember that moment clearly. If it wasn’t for her, this piece wouldn’t have come alive. I think it turned out to be such an amazing collaboration.

/ Taka

MONO 20 Years #19

"Pure As Snow (Trails Of The Winter Storm)"

Guitars at the intro are like gently falling snow. The big noise at the end makes you feel of the big snowstorm you have trouble keeping your eyes open. You naturally get sucked into the song, forget about the time and it pulls you back into reality at the end. This is the song that allows you to feel the beautiful moments of life and fragility of people walking towards death for certainty.

/ Yoda

MONO 20 Years #18

"Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn"

"Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn". We did our first collaborative live with The Wordless Music Orchestra in NYC in 2009, then later with other orchestras in UK, Australia and Japan. Getting the piano's tempo right by just the flutes' breathing pace in the first half of the song made me really want to cry. Since I'm used to playing in a band, playing with the conductor got me a little worried. At the end, where the last sound produced a very thin light, we felt each other's accomplishments. That was the moment we became a big band.

/ Tamaki

MONO 20 Years #17

"Ashes In The Snow"

The opening track of our 5th album "Hymn To The Immortal Wind" (March 2009 release). For this album, I wanted to create an aggressive, symphonic and sublime sound by mixing our destructive power as a band, and spirituality of Classical music in a new way. This was also the 3rd album we worked together with the engineer Steve Albini, and we feel that we managed to create an ideal sound for us. We did this recording in Chicago with 22-piece strings and 2 flutists. For the compositions, we got our friend who is a screenwriter to write a story, and I wrote the songs based on it. The story is about a boy and a girl's reincarnation.

I used Glockenspiels at the beginning, left being the young girl and right being the young boy, to portray their souls seeking for each other over time (like echoing to each other). This is one of our most important songs for live even to this day.

/ Taka

2006 Full-Length Album

You Are There

MONO 20 Years #16

"Moonlight"

This is a very special song for me so I'd like to write 3 things that come to my mind.

In a pace like once every 10 years, Tamaki tells me "I want this song (MONO's song) to be played at my funeral". This gives me a mixed feeling; I don't want to think about such sad events but at the same time, I feel honoured. "Moonlight" to me is one of the most important songs which holds special meanings like this.

This song came to me suddenly one afternoon in summer during the American tour in 2004. Not only that, I started to hear everything clearly from melodies, chords, beats, moods and sounds. It was right before the show as well, and back then, we didn't have smartphones to quickly record to leave a trace, so I asked Yoda in haste to remember his parts and started to check my melodies with him like "I can never forget this". There was no guarantee but I happened to not forget even once until we returned back to Japan, and managed to leave every trace of inspiration of that moment.

A long time ago in a magazine interview, I once answered "this may cause some misunderstandings, but 'Moonlight' is my first original piece". What I meant was this song was the first song that sounded most like me out of the thousands I have composed, ever since I picked up my first guitar at the age of 14.

In the end, I purposely gave it the same title as Beethoven's "Moonlight", because I felt that this would be the most important song for me.

/ Taka

MONO 20 Years #15

"Are You There?"

The most unforgettable performance of this song was at our show in NYC, where all of our fans gathered for MONO's 10 year anniversary. The venue was at the concert hall where Einstein gave his speech. Playing with an orchestra and recording the live performance made me really nervous, but contrary to the fear, I think we made an exceptional worldview from the intro.

/ Yoda

MONO 20 Years #14

"Yearning"

"Yearning". The tension of going into the holding breath-like extreme silence has never faded from this song even until now. Even in the loud parts in the 2nd half, I always try to perform not just vigorously but also so you can imagine an enormous, chimerical darkness. In the actual recording, I also performed on the Mellotron but the sound faded or pitch glitched at unexpected places. That makes it great but I remember struggling more than I expected.

/ Tamaki

MONO 20 Years #13

"The Flames Beyond The Cold Mountain"

The 4th album "You Are There" (2006)'s opening track. For this album, I wanted to make a cinematic piece so I wrote the story first, split them into chapters and started on the compositions.

The album starts with "The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain", which is about a woman who lost her beloved husband, gazing into the snowy mountain looking for a place to die. She recollects about her good days past, as the 2nd song "A Heart Has Asked for the Pleasure" comes in. From the tragedy of her husband's sudden death and losing everything, the 3rd song "Yearning" comes in where she faces despair and sorrow, filled with anger with nowhere to go. Thinking only of looking for a place to die, she walks towards the snowy mountain and finds a church that shouldn't exist there. "Are You There?". The 4th song is about her feeling her husband's presence in the church. With "The Remains of the Days", the 5th song, she realises that souls will never fade even if bodies decay, and gets wrapped in a warm gentle light. In the last scene "Moonlight", she slowly fades under the moon like a snow, towards her husband.

/ Taka

2004 Full-Length Album

Walking Cloud And Deep Red Sky,
Flag Shuttered And The Sun Shined

MONO 20 Years #12

"A Thousand Paper Cranes"

"A Thousand Paper Cranes". After starting to play live throughout the world, MONO's music started to get accepted little by little. During that time, all the people we met in the world gave us some truly amazing experiences. What all of us in the band felt right then was "we want the world to be in peace". This is the song of that prayer.

/ Yoda

MONO 20 Years #11

"Halcyon (Beautiful Days)"

"Halcyon (Beautiful Days)". This was our first "ode to joy" and also "requiem" in our career. For a long time, we couldn't find our place anywhere in this world. We were filled with anger and worries, but after long tours, we made many fans and colleagues. This song was written to show our feelings of getting hopes and dreams, together with appreciation.

/ Taka

MONO 20 Years #10

"Mere Your Pathetique Light"

"Mere Your Pathetique Light". Guitars and strings cuddle over the monotonously fading piano, both independent and cohesive, then unexpectedly, they writhe together, build and then release... What I wanted to portray amongst various intersecting happenings was the strength of "I am here unfalteringly". Performing piano over gradually intensifying strings was like putting yourself in "nothingness", and that itself wasn't an easy thing to do.

/ Tamaki

MONO 20 Years #9

"16.12"

"16.12". The title of the song originates from Beethoven's birthday. I was looking for a new style of composition that was more emotional and cinematic. This album was recorded in Chicago in 2003, and in fact, this was our first song with Steve Albini. It was my most heart moving moments out of all our recordings. Amongst many other events, this was also the first album to be signed by my long-time favourite label Temporary Residence Ltd., so in a way, this was our first turning point.

/ Taka

2002 Full-Length Album

One Step More And You Die

MONO 20 Years #8

"Halo"

"Halo". Every time I listen to this song, I remember about our 3 shows in NYC back in 2002. We were reckless, and didn't have much experience nor did we know much. Even though there was no guarantee for our future, I didn't feel any fear when I was slamming my guitar really loud.

/ Taka

MONO 20 Years #7

"Sabbath"

"Sabbath". I remember recording this song very well. When we finished recording after many incidents like studio's power blackout, Taka suddenly decided to use the studio's instruments as an intro. We got excited and started listening to the playbacks. When the intro started to play through the speakers, we heard the mysterious sounds of like sky spinning. Straight away, the worldview of "Sabbath" started to take its form.

/ Yoda

MONO 20 Years #6

"Com(?)"

"Com(?)". The song I played imagining the darkest and heaviest violence at the time. This song broke my bass strings twice during performances, and those were the only times that has happened in my long bassist's life. This was a suitable song for my young self to throw my anger, sadness and dishonesty into. It made me feel better after every time I played. People say music save people’s hearts, but I may be able to calm my heart by just playing.

/ Tamaki

MONO 20 Years #5

"Where Am I"

The opening track of our 2nd album “One Step More And You Die” (2002). This was the first song we used Glockenspiel, and also the time when I started to self-teach string arrangement seriously. This recording was done in Japan. This song has the loneliness of getting thrown into the world by yourself, yet it is wrapped in something warm and gentle. Even now, I time to time think to myself “what am I seeking and where am I heading?”.

/ Taka

2001 Full-Length Album

Under The Pipal Tree

MONO 20 Years #4

"Human Highway"

This song creates peaks without using warp pedals. For me, it was a real challenge and I think using quartets instead of warps make the sound deeper. When we recorded the end part of 2 guitars, I remember my hand holding the pick couldn't stop shaking.

/ Yoda

MONO 20 Years #3

"L'America"

"L’America" was written, inspired by Arvo Part's masterpiece "Spiegel im Spiegel". I like triple-metre rhythms/waltz because they have a unique mood and worldview. I use it in many songs like "Halcyon" and "Moonlight". I remember writing this song while looking at the sky turning orange from the sunset.

/ Taka

MONO 20 Years #2

"Error #9"

"Error #9". This is the song that taught me that bass can also portray many emotions. I wasn't used to melodic bass performances then, and even now, this makes me realise again that bass can infinitely portray anything from silence, dynamics, to emotions. When I hear this song, I also remember our first Swedish Tour. The shorter days, colder air, beautiful sky, and everything about the tour was unknown. If I play the song now, it will probably be a completely different "Error #9" compared to those days I was just absorbed in the moment.

/ Tamaki

MONO 20 Years #1

"The Kidnapper Bell"

"The Kidnapper Bell" taken from the 1st album "Under the Pipal Tree" (2001). The song is a mixture of minimal music and noise guitar, and you can say that this is like the basis of MONO. Hearing it reminds me of our old rough US Tours. I remember the song was just so loud that even the amp was always smoking.

/ Taka