In the tradition of post-rock outfits like Tortoise, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tokyo's Mono favors the hypnotic applications of tension and release. Combining aching melodies and dark undercurrents of distortion into a slow-building storm of thundering repetition, the formidable noise quartet seems determined to elevate instrumental guitar drone to an art form -- or at least a meditative soundscape for contemplating life in a chaotic universe. To tame the tempest somewhat, the band enlisted ace producer and onetime tourmate Steve Albini for last year's ponderously titled Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined. A less spectacular offering than 2003's One Step and You Die, the Albini-helmed project explores quieter territories and elegiac themes with the aid of string- and piano-tinted compositions -- including "A Thousand Paper Cranes," a bittersweet ode to twelve-year-old Sadako Sasaki, who, following the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, tried to cure her own leukemia through the magic of origami. Fifty thousand paper-crane fans can't be wrong.


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