SXSW Records

Phases and Stages


Under the Pipal Tree (Tzadik) After years of being derided as Slint and My Bloody Valentine rip-offs, Mogwai now has their own school of imitators. They're coming from the Far East even. Listening to Mono's debut, Under the Pipal Tree, the similarities to the Glaswegians, who put instrumental crescendo-rock on the map, are obvious. Apparently John Zorn is a Mogwai fan, too, because the avant-jazz impresario inked Mono to his prestigious Tzadik label after the Tokyo quartet came stateside for shows at SXSW and CBGB last year. Tzadik trafficks mostly in adventurous jazz and skronk, yet Under the Pipal Tree doesn't seem as out of place as it might. These four relative unknowns, led by guitarist Takaagira Goto, show an uncanny sense of composition and steady-handedness as they patiently unfurl beautiful tapestries of sound amidst immense sheaths of distortion. "The Kidnapper Bell," clocking in at 10 minutes, is an absolute masterpiece. Goto and company slowly build a warm, symphonic progression, joined by a riveting beat that remains constant for the remainder of this journey to the heart of the pleasure center. The reverberating guitar tones steadily build in volume, enveloping everything in a grandiose blanket of amazingly ear-friendly molten noise. Most of the tracks operate in Mogwai's Come on Die Young mold of plucked-string repetition and pulverizing release, a Spartan approach that drags at times. Mono is at their best when sculpting less-discernible waves of pure sound, and their best is something very powerful indeed. (Thursday, March 14, The Drink on 6th, 11pm)


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