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Holy Ground: NYC Live with The Wordless Music Orchestra

MONO is a golden goose. Their live album, Holy Ground, is a golden egg. With three guitars, drums, and sans vocals, they are completely focused on the music at hand. Both their music and performance are intense and entrancing. MONO's sound is a mix of classical and rock, at times gliding with genres such as shoegaze and post-rock. For a better idea, imagine a movie score set to beautiful, dramatic visuals. At times, they remind me of bands such as Dead Can Dance.

On Holy Ground, band members Tamaki Kunishi, Takaakira Goto, Yoda, and Yasunori Takada are joined by The Wordless Music Orchestra. Here we have a literal celebration of strings. The band sets the mood while the orchestra really makes the music fly. Takaakira and Yoda have fun dueling with fingering, distortion, and effects; Tamaki sways with her guitar and ruminates at the piano; Yasunori forever fuels the beat. The Wordless Music Orchestra takes the drama of each song and blasts it into outer space, taking the listener along for the ride.

Each song delights the senses in a different way. My skin bristled with chill during "Ashes In The Snow." The solemn emptiness is felt in "Burial At Sea." "Where Am I" made me think of a lonely person roaming a rainy street at night.

The album also comes with a DVD of the concert, which is great. I think DVDs of live shows are a perfect backdrop while cleaning, crafting, or moving furniture in your apartment. While you're working, you receive the benefit of music and when you're sitting for a spell, there's something interesting to watch on TV. Though the film quality is a bit on the grainy side, it's still a treat to see how these musicians play live. It's easy to pretend that you were actually there.

Holy Ground: NYC Live With the Wordless Music Orchestra is a flawless collection from a skilled ensemble.

Written by: Jacquie Piasta, May 26th 2010