Heavy. It’s a word that can be used to describe many ideas. Typically when used in reference to music it refers to huge bombastic sound – a destruction of traditional melody. With the rise of the post-metal and post-rock scenes, heaviness and melody have combined to form something new, something that matters.
Chicago’s Pelican started out as band that wrote simple trudging music, all instrumental with heavily distorted guitars that pounded out slow, decaying rhythms. The songs were powerful, but lacked any true dynamism, and Pelican would develop their sound further. On 2003’s Australasia Pelican honed their brand of precise post-metal to become one of the best in the genre (alongside Isis). It was slow doom music mixed with beautifully layered guitars, a testament to a shifting paradigm within Pelican’s music: heaviness could be achieved with melody. 2005’s The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw saw Pelican move their instrumental music towards a melodic, quieter base. The sound was not as obviously heavy, but increased in density and speed. There were more quiet parts, a greater indication of musical direction, and their best song yet, “March into the Sea.”
When playing live, Pelican stick to a more direct attack – playing their songs wholeheartedly, loud and with a lot of energy. They never get lost in any portions of their music, consistently playing an exciting show throughout. On record, Pelican play with a completely different feel than they do live. Both sounds are equally dynamic, but Pelican understands how to put on a great live show.
As an all-instrumental act that explores the post-rock loud guitars, soft guitars formula, Japan’s Mono is the perfect band to play with Pelican. Mono are different from Pelican in that they are much more minimalist. Their songs feature many quiet melodies, which weave and form into moments of fuzzed-out, heavy bliss. Mono’s most recent album, You Are There, was their masterpiece, a fully realized vision of the sound they’ve been crafting since 2000. While their music isn’t far off from other post-rock bands like label-mates Explosions in the Sky, Mono have a distinctive enough sound to have formed their own niche within the genre.
The live setting is the area where Mono really shines. The quiet parts are quiet and dynamic; the loud and heavy parts are extremely loud and heavy, a true “experience” of rock music. The intermingling of melody-laden guitar lines with minimalist drumming work well for Mono in the live setting. In fact, Mono’s music works so well live that, after seeing them, their recorded music becomes more alive.
This show brings together a perfect pairing of bands at once similar and different, but completely complementary to one another – don’t miss it.
Pelican and Mono will be playing with Eluvium on June 2 at the Loveland, 315 S.E. Third Ave. The cost is $15.