Over The Weekend: Mono and Balmorhea at The Loft

Mono, Balmorhea
The Loft
May 1 2010

Better than: Whatever else you had planned after the busy Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

A large and eager audience crowded around the small stage of the Loft at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday to see Japanese experimental music quartet Mono play as if they were an an orchestra for an hour and a half. 

It really felt like that: Mono's musical style consists of slow and dense tracks that escalated in intensity by the minute. In a couple of moments during the set, the transitions between soft and heavy parts were immediate and intense.

A few tracks, such as "Yearning," had a folksy disposition bringing to mind enduring post-war Japanese artistic trends focusing on the Old West.

The most energetic moment of the set was at the track "The Kidnapper Bell", off their debut album Under The Pipal Tree. The track had a traditional shoegaze groove that got the band and crowd moving. Drummer Yasonori Takada, whose skill usually took a backseat during the set, came to form during the track. Basking in blue light, guitarists Yoda and Takaakira Goto stood up off their stools for a post-rock jam alongside bassist Tamaki Kunishi. Kunishi transitioned from bass to keyboard for a couple of tracks, providing a piano score to the guitar arrangements.

The final song of the set was the track "Everlasting Light," which began a few minutes before midnight.

The track provided a pretty becoming farewell ballad, essentially saying "Good night and sweet dreams." without words.

Opening for Mono was was Austin-based act Balmohea. Six musicians crowded the stage with an assortment of instruments to play for an hour. Balmorhea's style was also slow, experimental music with some folk and classical music elements.

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Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I have followed Mono since their 2004, Steve Albini-produced release, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined. While I enjoy the classical music elements of the band, my favorite album of theirs is their post-rock oriented debut, Under the Pipal Tree.

By The Way: I was put of a little by the timidness of Michael Muller from Balmorhea. "We'll play some music if you don't mind," he told the crowd, Uh, we came to the venue with a reasonable expectation that Belmorhea would play, man. Of course we don't mind.

Random Note: A few fans up front were banging their heads all along Mono's set, even in the absence of a beat. Now that's dedication!

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