Mono: a small mono-graph on Japanese post rock.


This short and brief report on Mono’s concert in Bruges (3/12/2014) doesn’t entail a review by all means. It aims at giving a possible explanation on the effectivity of their music, the effectivity of their instrumental post-rock. I’m not a music expert, nor did I wade through theory to be able to write this. You could say that what will be written here comes primarily from the heart. Their music, in a way, fated – to evoke Sakutaro Hagiwara – me to write this. And even though writing about Mono is condemned to fail in all sorts of ways, I’ll nevertheless try to fail as smooth as possible.

The soul of Mono: もの ( note 1/note 2/ note 3)

Jouissance as a mainspring: a ‘dialogue’.

“I start with a mood, an emotion, an image in my mind.  In the beginning, I just spew it out and then try to understand it as I go (…) .For me, composition is more impulsive and intuitive” (Takaakira Goto).












The images, even though they fall short to reveal something of last night, show Takaakira Goto being touched by his own music. (all Images are courtesy of Psychocinematography).

The music Mono plays is evidently rooted in the subjective structure of the composer(s). We could even propose, using the above quote, that the unconsciousness plays it’s (big) part in the composition or the process of composing. But then we would ultimately forget that other important piece that makes Mono so powerful: the fact that the music concerns the ‘sublimation of jouissance’, a treatment of the real. Even though the unconscious (as structured as a language) seems to play a part, the music emanates primarily from the real of the body. It concerns affects, those of the composer, those of Takaakira Goto. The pictures above reveal, at least for me, the subjective as the affectionate implication of Takaakira Goto in Mono’s music and in his performance. It shows that the sublimated affects, the composition, once publicly resonating, strikes Goto like a meteor. Analytically we could say that Goto never fails to be getting hit by his own interpretation. (For me, it was also the most beautiful proof of his love for music.)

“Music is a visceral, spiritual experience. It has the ability to communicate a sort of transcendence from the chaos of everyday living” (Takaakira Goto).

Is it not because the music is a gift from the body, the affects, that the music is inherently evocative, as evocative as language, without using any language (signifier/signified)? I think that ‘interpretation’ is the best word to describe Mono’s compositions. Every piece of art, every composition is nothing less than an interpretation. The composition not only acts as the reveal of Goto’s own interpretation, but serves as an evocative interpretation given to the audience; it’s by being an interpretation that Mono communicates.

The transcendence of Mono’s compositions lie for me in their ability to move the audience, to move the audience affect-ionately, by touching the particular real of each subject in the audience.  The music – maybe art is a better word than music – strikes the audience in much the same way as it strikes the band members of Mono. The compositions travels through the body and never fails to hit the/a mark. An good interpretation also never fails to hit the mark, doesn’t fail in touching upon the real of the subject.

“Instrumental music in particular is an interactive experience because the listener must use his/her imagination. We are not spoon-feeding you any words or meaning, so you have to decide for yourself what it may mean to you. We enjoy films, stories, and all art forms that leave space for the imagination, so perhaps this is why we’ve chosen this route.

Music may trigger a dream you had, something that filled you with joy, something you regret, a moment of sadness that you overcame, or something spiritual that cannot be explained. It’s up to the listener. For me, instrumental music creates the energy that helps me confront these emotions” (Takaahira Goto).

The implication of Mono’s compositions/interpretations as being evocative is that everybody listens differently to Mono. By virtue of its evocativeness everybody gets implicated in the composition somewhere.  Like Goto says: “Music may trigger a dream you had, something that filled you with joy, something you regret, a moment of sadness that you overcame, or something spiritual that cannot be explained”. What Mono ‘ensnares’ is the subjective structures of individuals by being able to hit those aspects (those mentioned in the quote above) that’re defined by our subjective constitution/structure.

I personally think Mono goes further than just leaving room for imagination. Imagination is only the last station of the experience. Imagination, in the way I understand it, means drawing conclusions, drawing conclusions on what the interpretations evokes about yourself. Mono’s art is all about confronting the subject with who they are. That’s why, I think, we need to call Mono Artists. Their Art- is-triumphantly human.


Note 1: Mono in Japanese is often used to express emotional involvement.

Note 2: The official website of Mono is:

Note 3: a lot of women liked Tamaki Kunishi’s red shoes.


Takaahira Goto interview.


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