Study in contrasts

For a band as feedback-friendly as mono, they sure have some nicely melodic music.

mono specialize in the kind of long, drawn-out, repetitive instrumental that some avant-garde experts might call “post-minimalist”.

But where music of this kind can get pretty boring pretty fast, mono possesses a very keen sense of proportion.

The Japanese quartet’s debut, Hey You E.P., contains only four tracks and clocks in at 37 minutes.

The 11-minute opener “Karelia”, however, doesn’t feel like it just stole 1/6 of an hour of your life. Rather, the meticulously-crafted arc of the piece makes those 11 minutes feel more like three. (Eh — maybe five.)

mono knows never to try a listeners patience. They build to a climax gradually and organically, never sacrificing common sense to be merely clever.

The eight-minute “Finlandia” starts off slow, but by the time all the band members are playing, that slow piece has transformed itself into a hulking, kinetic wall of sound.

Unlike other Japanese underground bands, mono likes tonal harmonies. Noisy, buzzsaw distorion is a vital part of the band’s sound, make no mistake, but the foundation for their skyscrapers of overdrive are muddy triads fed through lots and lots of reverb.

With a tonal foundation set against a screeching foreground, mono creates an arresting Big Picture.

It’s melodic. It’s dischordant. It’s hazy. It’s clear.

In short, it’s a tremendous piece of work from a band expert in making extremes work as a single unit.

The four members of mono — bass guitarist Tamaki, guitarists Goto Takaakira and Yoda, and drummer Takada Yasunori — are expert sound architects. They know how to make the harshest noise sound angelic.