Throughout their six-year career, MONO has ascended consistently in both popularity and critical acclaim, with record sales and live show attendance corresponding. But still elusive to the Japanese quartet has been the successful translation of their powerful and violently beautiful live performances to their recordings. Despite their albums’ masterful subtleties and majestic walls of noise, the consensus has remained that their transcendent live show is simply incomparable.
If there is any chance of breaking that spell, it lies in You Are There, without a doubt the prime contender to unite the live and recorded worlds of MONO. Once again captured to tape by Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studios in Chicago, IL, the album extends the cinematic drama of 2003’s Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined (also recorded by Albini), while surpassing the sinister heaviness of 2002’s lauded One Step More and You Die.
If Walking Cloud was a nuclear winter, then You Are There is the post-war rebirth; steeped in an ominous creation-via-destruction atmosphere not heard since Neurosis’ landmark Enemy of the Sun defined the sound more than a decade ago.
You Are There disproves the myth that an increased focus on intricate song structures and string arrangements comes at the expense of youthful energy and inspired aggression. With You Are There, MONO’s representation of tragedy comes with an inherent joy, delivered with the hope that in all dark there is equal parts light. They’re not heavy like Black Sabbath – they’re heavy like Beethoven.