Holy Ground: NYC Live
Record Review by Adam McKibbin
Holy Ground seems like it was almost destined to be a Mono album title at some point along the way. For much of their decade of existence, the princes of post-rock have chased after (and sometimes caught) those thunderous, transcendent moments that can be almost spiritual for listeners and audience members. For every person who turns up a nose at the formulaic core of post-rock – the endless slow builds and clattering crescendos – there’s someone who’s been literally reduced to tears in the face of one of those giant waves. Just as surely as a heart-tugging movie, Mono means to overwhelm – and they often succeed.
Like the vast majority of live albums, Holy Ground isn’t going to force many reevaluations. This one is meant for fans – and it will reward them amply. It’s the right time in their career for a live album, particularly one alongside a talented orchestra, as classical orchestrations have seeped more deeply into the group’s recent albums. The companion DVD will allow viewers to vicariously experience the immersive thrills.
Pulling largely but not entirely from their most recent record (Hymn to the Immortal Wind), Mono treat the orchestra not as a curiosity but a necessity. Given the somewhat limiting confines of their style of music, there have been times throughout their catalog when a listener could be forgiven for getting a bit impatient between those oh-so-epic climaxes. But with this arrangement, the quieter, more ambient stretches are sometimes even more affecting than apocalyptic crescendos. There are some wonderful stretches of space and near-silence, so pristinely played and presented that it’s easy to forget for a time that it’s a live album (at least until the audience erupts in applause between songs). It’s meant to be experienced as a single giant piece of work that reduces you to rubble, but for listeners just curious for a taste test, “Halcyon (Beautiful Days)” and grandiose opener “Ashes In The Snow” are the best places for a tiptoe.
Mono - Gone
Mono - You Are There
Mono - Live - September 24, 2005
Mono - Live - September 21, 2007
Mono & World's End Girlfriend - Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain
More by this writer:
Mike Patton - Mondo Cane
The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt
Pavement - Live - April 15, 2010
No One Knows About Persian Cats [Film + Sdtk]