Mondrian Oak – Aeon (27 February 2012, Eibon Records)
Okay, stop right there. Before you read another word (and before I write any more) we need to get one thing out of the way immediately. Do you have a short attention span? Do people often refer to you as impatient? Has your mind already begun wandering away from this post, two or three sentences ago? If you answered “yes” to any of these (or if you didn’t answer at all because you lost track of the questions), there’s a chance this might not be for you. You may prefer to do some reading elsewhere this evening, and come back to visit me tomorrow. I’ll miss you, but I can understand.
For those who are still here, though, I’ve got quite a special treat in store for you tonight. Mondrian Oak, the instrumental post-metal (heavy emphasis on the “post”) quartet from Ancona, Italy, have put together their second album, called Aeon, and it’s available on CD right now from Aural Music‘s sub-label Eibon Records. It’s pretty fucking incredible, and you’ll have the opportunity to hear the whole thing before you go buy it.
This album is divided into seven separate tracks, for your convenience, but it’s better to think of it as a single grand piece of music that contains several smaller sections, because while each chapter may explore different sonic ideas and directions, ultimately they are all tied together by some repeated motifs and variations on common themes — much like a symphony.
I’ve listened to this the whole way through (and to be honest that’s the only way I’d want to hear it) several times now, and I feel like I could listen several more times and still discover some new aspect of the sound each time; some new dimension or perspective from which to enjoy the music.
There is one thing that I keep coming back to, though; one specific comparison that continually sneaks its way into my thoughts. That would be Pink Floyd‘s song “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” If you’re familiar with the song, you’ll likely recall that it starts out slowly, with a simple bassline hitting single notes that alternate between two octaves; gradually the rest of the band join in, setting a very mellow, introspective tone. Eventually, there is a slight crescendo, whereupon the song’s title is whispered, and the music hits a frenzied climax with murderous shrieks, before settling back into mellowness again.
Now, imagine all of that (minus any sort of vocals — no whispers, no screams), but spread across the course of a whole album, so that the sudden changes in dynamics are smoothed out to a far more gradual slope.
I think this analogy mostly stems from the fact that Aeon begins with a similar octave-jumping line between the bass and guitar, slowly building from there, and ultimately winding back down to the same thing at the album’s denouement. In between, there are hills and valleys; moments of crashing doomy riffs followed by long moody periods of atmospheric mellifluousness, interspersed with melodies both glorious and mournful, and waves of harmonious feedback.
The overall effect of all this is something akin to an epic poem, but in musical form rather than lyrical. The tones and sounds serve as the vehicle for telling the story, instead of words, allowing for much more abstract and fluid imagery than the concrete concepts that would be suggested by a more explicit form of expression. In fact, this goes yet another step beyond most instrumental music by even eschewing song titles, leaving the experience that much more open to the listener’s own interpretation.
Two of the tracks from this album are available to sample via the record label’s website: “I” and “V”. Honestly, I don’t know if their intention is to give these away as free downloads, but on the product information page at the Eibon Records website these direct links to the mp3 files are given, so you have the ability to listen to them or download, whichever you prefer. Additionally, another two parts are available on the band’s Soundcloud page:
So that’s more than half of the album right there, which should give you a pretty good taste. If you are still craving more, the full album (all seven tracks) is streaming at mondrianoak.com. As I said earlier, my preference is definitely to hear the entire thing in a single sitting. The CD is now available for sale at the Aural Music webstore.
Eibon Records: Official website