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Mono | One More Step And You Die (Rykodisc)
Japan's hardly considered a bastion of post-rock excellence, but Mono look likely to address that with their second album 'One More Step And You Die', a record so aurally intense that you'll either flee in terror to the nearest Belle and Sebastian record, or pee your pants before you even get that far.
Or at least that's what the press release threatens. I mean, "a Matisse dipped in pig's blood and painted over with the ink-blotted tails of cobras", or "a nightmare dreamscape where sound...makes a fist and buries it in your gut" are hardly the kind of descriptions that are going to make you think that 'One More Step And You Die' could well be the greatest record of its kind since 'Come On Die Young', are they? Well, apparently they must be, as tracks like Sabbath and Halo are laced with a subtle grace and beauty that the likes of Mogwai and Sigur Ros can usually only ever dream of achieving. Sure, to vindicate the press release, there are moments where the somber mood changes significantly towards one of fully blown rock excess, not least on the epic Com(?), where delightful ambience is torn apart by an injection of volume so loud it threatens to destroy your in-ear headphones for good. Elsewhere there are ramshackle noise sculptures reminiscent of Ganger, such as Mopish Morning, Halation Wiper, ensuring that there is diversity enough to assure repeated listens.
Returning to my earlier grand statement, 'One More Step...' isn't quite the equal of Mogwai's genre-defining high watermark, but probably will be the finest example of its kind in 2003. Well, until the new Mogwai record anyway.

Mike Diver
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003