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Mono brings Japanese post-rock to Carnegie Mellon

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It's catching: Mono
  • It's catching: Mono
Hey, you! Yes, you -- the khaki-wearing, nine-to-fiving late 20s-early 30s dude with a taste for The Office and a sensitive collection of Radiohead and Sigur Rós CDs. Take a break from posting Dilbert cartoons in your cubicle and listen up.

You had an excuse for ignoring the first wave of post-rock: It was only a handful of bands, and when Tortoise and Godspeed hit, there was no Pitchfork to drum them into your skull. But now, with the second deluge upon us, there's no escape. Explosions in the Sky tracks are appearing in movies; Isis is playing stadiums with Tool.

So it's time you paid attention. The first easy step is the Brooklyn-based indie label Temporary Residence, home to many of the most promising new post-rock/orchestral rock acts in the U.S., and some from Japan.

One of those Japanese groups, Mono, is playing Pittsburgh on Sun., April 15. You might not have heard of them, but they have a seven-year track record of gradual evolution. Starting as My Bloody Valentine imitators with the 2001 debut Under the Pipal Tree (on John Zorn's Tzadik label), Mono now creates some of today's most majestic, purely instrumental grandeur that can still be filed under "rock," yet not boast its own PBS special.

In case you thought the aforementioned Yorke and friends-of-Bjork were the final word on effects pedals, string sections and cinematic soundscapes, there are two items I'd like to present as evidence. Exhibit A is You Are There, Mono's 2006 Steve Albini-produced album that ratcheted up the guitar intricacy, bassline lyricism and cello quotient quite a few notches, for exactly 60 minutes. Think New Age music that can tear your head clean off.

Exhibit B is Mono's new collaborative LP with Tokyo neoclassicalist World's End Girlfriend, an amazing work called Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain (perhaps a dirge for a once or future genocide?). Filled with stunning, lustrous, angelic beauty, it boggles the mind and turns your Kronos Quartet CDs into beer coasters.

This prosecution indicts Adult Alternative Radio for turning its back on masterpieces like this in favor of slick folk-pop, and condemns goths to a hideous execution for neglecting such pristine walls of darkness in favor of predictable thuddery. There is only one reprieve, one pardon available to such woeful sinners: Be at Carnegie Mellon for what promises to be the best show on campus since Godspeed played the McConomy seven years ago, or thereabouts. Spirits will soar.

Mono with World's End Girlfriend and The Drift. 8 p.m. Sun., April 15. Doherty 2315, CMU campus, Oakland. $7 ($5 CMU students). All ages. 412-268-2107

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