One More Step and You Die
Arena Rock

mono is a post-rock band, in the style of Mogwai, based out of Japan. The group is a four piece and One More Step and You Die is their second full-length record. The first, Under a Pipal Tree was recorded for John Zorn’s Tzadik label. Each of the song’s on their past two albums have been instrumental. And, if you like early period Mogwai- think “Like Herod” especially- this is your new favorite band.

The group deals in two categories- dynamics and melody. This can be further be broken down into two portions each, as well.


Most songs near the middle of the proceedings tend to take on a very loud quality after a lengthy build-up to that point or through a sudden erratic shift in dynamics from extremely soft to extremely loud to stun the listener out of their supposed blissed out state.


These same songs usually tend to have quiet parts. Many of them are composed solely out of quiet parts, lulling the listener to a sense of comfort before the next song starts or into a state of sleep. The moments are delicate- and have a sense of foreboding to them, in most cases. At all times, you see, the listener must be on guard, lest you be shocked again, like on “Com(?)”

And then there are the melodies.


On songs like “Com(?)” and the lulling “Halo”, the medlodies work very well. The guitars compete for attention, they intertwine, and they communicate ideas without words. In short, they are successful instrumentals. In instrumental music, and especially post-rock of this variety, the melodies are all you have. And when they hit- they hit.


It’s hard to describe why exactly a melody doesn’t work. The resonance just isn’t as strong as on other songs. Nonetheless there are weaker tracks that can easily be pinpointed on this record. “Loco Tracks”, in particular, is an idea that runs its course in the opening twenty seconds of the song, yet holds on for about seven minutes.

And that’s about it. With an album as cut and dry as this, it’s hard to say no to many of the tracks. Sometimes the melodies hit hard- and at other times the entire album passes by without a single thought. Perhaps as a credit to their craft, it takes a person with the willingness to immerse themselves in the album, to fully appreciate the craft of Mono. Perhaps as a criticism of their craft, Mogwai has done this previously and better.

Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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