Mono - Holy Ground: Nyc Live With The Wordless Music Orchestra
Like any reasonable adult rock fan, I was at first scared shitless when I heard that Mono's latest was to be a live set recorded in collaboration with an orchestra. Shit, such a partnership sent Metallica into therapy and Kiss into reality TV, and both into complete irrelevancy musically. Fear not, O you with a phobia of the band/woodwind duo. This is not aging rocker pretense or emo auto-fellatio: "Holy Ground: NYC Live with The Wordless Music Orchestra" is brilliant, and takes nothing away from the deeply hypnotic, often profound post-rock of Mono. If anything, the swelling strings provide a lush deepening of the band's patented meditative, over-amped drone. Often, they truly do meet on holy ground, the one where pure emotion trumps categories.
Recorded and filmed in 2009 at the Society for Ethical Culture Hall in New York City in celebration of their tenth anniversary as a band, "Holy Ground" blends in the twenty-four piece band seamlessly into Mono's signature epic, poignantly hopeful music. Dramatic, yes, but not a distortion of the band's consistent aims.
The heartbreaking "Ashes in the Snow" is the leadoff and best track, though "2 Candles 1 wish" and "Where Am I" pack emotional power as well. "Everlasting Light" ends the CD on a typically majestic peak. ( There is also a 3LP version of this).
The DVD included in the CD release does not compare to the heat generated by some other Mono DVDs, but it captures the emotion and the intensity of musicians and fans alike quite graphically.
Would the music on "holy Ground" be just as powerful without a 24 piece orchestra? Of course. Mono put their audience through a ringer of power and contemplation like few other bands. But as far as such collaborations go, this is organic and successful as it gets.
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