MONO is a post-rock band from Tokyo, Japan. Their songs, all of which are instrumental, are usually focused on layered guitar melodies but strings and pianos are also prominently featured. Throughout their career, MONO has ascended consistently in both popularity and critical acclaim.
MONO were founded in January 2000 by guitarist Takaakira Goto. Working by himself, Goto completed most of MONO's demo tracks, partly influenced by guitarist Loren Connors. By late 1999 Goto began the search for band members; the first to join was fellow guitarist and long time friend Yoda. Soon afterwards the two guitarists linked up with bassist Tamaki Kunishi and drummer Yasunori Takada. The group soon released a 4 track EP entitled Hey, You on the small independent label Forty-4.
MONO's first full length album Under the Pipal Tree, released in 2001 on Tzadik Records, was met with somewhat mixed reviews. It was later referred to by Goto in a 2006 interview with Phil McMullen as a "very, very young album". Whilst recording the album, the September 11th attacks took place, which were to have a significant effect on MONO's later work.
In 2002, MONO finished their second album, One Step More and You Die. Many critics considered this as having a more distinctive sound than the preceding album. Soon afterward, MONO moved on to a new project in direct response to the aftermath of September 11th. This album was titled New York Soundtracks and was recorded in collaboration with several important members of the New York experimental scene, such as DJ Olive, Jackie-O Motherfucker, and Loren Connors. New York Soundtracks consists of remixes of all of One Step More and You Die's tracks.
MONO then embarked on the production of their next album, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined which was released in 2004. There is much back story to this album, especially behind one of its songs, "A Thousand Paper Cranes". The inspiration for this song was the story of Sasaki Sadako, a young girl from Hiroshima who contracted leukemia at the age of 13, dying shortly afterwards. While in her hospital bed, Sasaki attempted to fold one thousand paper cranes, which, according to Japanese folklore, had once cured a girl of disease.
MONO's next musical endeavor was a collaboration with Japanese solo post-rock musician Maeda Katsuhiko known as World's End Girlfriend. This collaboration, titled Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain, was released in 2005. The album makes significant use of string instruments such as violins and cellos, accompanied by MONO's guitar work.
MONO released their next album, You Are There. The album met similar success to Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain and was accompanied by worldwide tours throughout 2006 and 2007.
In November 2008 MONO began recording their third album with long-time friend and producer Steve Albini. Hymn to the Immortal Wind, released in March 2009. The instrumentation is vast on this album, incorporating strings, flutes, organ, piano, glockenspiel and timpani into their standard set-up. While Hymn to the Immortal Wind continues to mine the cinematic drama inherent in all of MONO's music, the dynamic shifts now come more from dark-to-light instead of quiet-to-loud. The maturity to balance these elements so masterfully has become MONO's strongest virtue.2009 also marked MONO's 10th anniversary and to celebrate they played two very rare and special performances with the Wordless Music Orchestra in New York City on 8th and 9th May 2009.
Compilations / Other
misono, currently going under the moniker Me, is a Japanese pop-rock singer-songwriter, talent, and actress from Kyoto. In 2002 she began in the music business as the vocalist and lyricist of the pop band day after tomorrow. She stayed with the unit for three years until the group disbanded in 2005. A year later misono started her solo career with the single "VS" in March. She has been acting in commercials since 2003, though it was in 2006 when she was cast in a feature film, Obachan Chips.
Despite originating from Kyoto in Japan, misono went to study at the prestigeous Okinawa Actors School in the southern islands of Japan. While at the school, she was a member in a popular group entitled B.B.WAVES. After being signed to the label avex trax, misono would debut in 2002 as the lead vocalist of a new band; day after tomorrow. Their self titled debut mini-album reached up to #10 on the Oricon weekly charts, and a following mini-album in November (day after tomorrow II) reached even further (peaking at #3).
Despite this success, it would not be until 2003 when day after tomorrow would reach their peak in popularity. Their single "moon gate", used as the theme song to the Namco game Tales of Symphonia, brought them their first #2 single. Six months after the debut of day after tomorrow, misono began to gain weight. Her chubby face was a reason for their diminishing popularity and the eventual disbandment of day after tomorrow.
Two years later in 2005, the band would disband. By this time they had achieved a total of two singles at #2 and two albums at #2 on the Oricon charts.
In late March 2006, misono would return to the music scene as a solo artist with the single "VS". Interestingly enough, this single was released on the same day as fellow labelmate and former Do As Infinity member Van Tomiko's debut solo album. By the end of the week, misono reached #4 on the Oricon weekly charts (with her sister's album BEST ~second session~ also charting at #4 in the very same week, but on the album charts).
"VS" would be quickly followed in a month's time by a second single, "Kojin Kugyou", a third two months after that, titled "Speedrive". In September of 2006, she joined a dieting program (MTV Girls Meets Beauty supported by Takano Yuri) on October 5th through MTV Japan. During this time she put out her fourth single "Lovely♥Cat's Eye". These singles were not as successful as "VS", but still charted within the top #20.
After five singles misono released her debut album, titled never+land. Unfortunately, the album flopped and debuted with low sales. The low sales have been thought to be from the lack of number of new songs on the album (only 4 songs out of 12 were new) and lack of promotion from avex trax. This in turn caused avex to cancel a previously mentioned mini cover album. In total, the album reached #20 on the Oricon weekly charts and sold 12,789 copies
misono released her sixth single "Pochi" in May of 2007 which later charted at a low number of #36 on the Oricon weekly charts. In September of the same year misono began the Rock Singles Project which would be rock themed singles produced by some of Japan's best rock acts. The first single in the project, "Zasetsu Chiten", was produced by STRAIGHTENER's bassist Hinata Hidekazu. In November of 2007 misono released the second single, "Juunin Toiro", which was produced by GO!GO!7188. Two months later misono released the third with a single produced by onso9line titled "Mugen Kigen". None of those singles entered the top ten on the Oricon charts.
The release of her second album was announced in early 2008, but it was unexpectedly pulled. It was later announced that in June misono would be releasing the main theme song for the game Tales of Symphonia -Ratatosk no Kishi- titled "Ninin Sankyaku". The single was the last of the rock project singles and had moderate success, charting at #10 on the Oricon weekly charts. Her second album say was released in June 2006, but failed to make an impact much like her debut album due to lack of promotion.
In October of 2008, misono released her 11th single, "Kazoku no Hi / Aburazemi♀ (Osaka Version) -Piano Version-". In November of 2008, misono collaborated with Satoda Mai and Toshifumi Fujimoto on a Christmas single called "Mou Sugu Christmas" in the new unit Satoda Mai with Goda Kazoku. The single was very well received and went to number #3 on the Oricon weekly charts. In January of 2009, they released a second single which was also well received and went number to #4 on the Oricon weekly charts, "Bye Bye". In February of 2009, she released her 12th single "Kyuukon / ?cm" and collaborated with her sister, Koda Kumi, on a joint "Koda Kumi x misono" single titled "It's all Love!" on March 31st, 2009.
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