As the prolific band leader of Japanese post-rock band MONO, Takaakira “Taka” Goto is one of the most preeminent names in the world of dreamy and emotional music. For 26 years he has been active as a member of MONO, yet now he found himself ready to set out on his own. It is typical for individual musicians to use the popularity of their band as a launchpad for their solo career, but in the context of four humble and highly skilled musicians from Tokyo, this is rather an eccentric move. It seems that Taka has something to say on his own now; something elaborate that needs to come from his mouth, and his mouth alone.
RELEASE DATE: 27 April 2015 LABEL: Pelagic Records
“Classical Punk and Echoes Under The Beauty” was recorded by Taka in 2003, and only now it is deemed ready for release. This significant delay makes me question the cultural relevance of this album as today’s world is very different from the one we lived in twelve years ago. Heck, even MONO themselves – infamous for their stylistic inertia – changed their attitude quite drastically at the end of last year. The mood on “Classical Punk…” draws heavily from the melancholy attitude portrayed on “One Step More and You Die”, which MONO released in 2002 as a further expansion of their trademark sound. On the other hand, the influence of film music is a very tangible presence on the record, which reminds me of “The Last Dawn”, which was said to be inspired by minimalist film score. Especially “Silence of Eden” hearkens back (or forward?) to the warm melodic and richly coloured quilt of “Elysian Castles”. “Classical Punk…” seems to relate to both MONO-eras, which makes it hard to view Taka as an artist in his own right.
With this album, Taka meant to combine the beauty of classical music, with the raw destructive energy of punk rock; he achieves this up to a certain level. “Till the Night Comes” for example is archetypal for the dramatic and powerful nature of the record. With its intense repetition of melodies and distorted drums, this song shows the disquieting nature of “Classical Punk…”. However, don’t let the album title deceive you when putting on this record, for “classical punk” does not mean you’ll be hearing the characteristic drumming and guitar work that is inherent to that genre. The template from which Taka sets off his journey is very much a neo-classical one, which reflects in the layered orchestration and repetition of simple melodies. Contrarily, the delicacy and lack of intensity that marks the work of many neo-classical artists is completely lost in the addition of the distorted drums and the wonderfully brooding guitar work. So, even after twelve years, “Classical Punk…” takes the neo-classical narrative a step further and, completely shedding any post-rock influences, it shows Taka to be a master of the genre.