For Anime buffs out there who know of the show Ergo Proxy (it’s an interesting show by the way, check it out sometime), Monoral is the band that sang the opening, “Kiri,” for the show. —Yes, I admit that this is how I initially found out about the band. To be honest, that’s how I found about a lot of my Japanese music, which, in fact, is rather sad. Japanese music has a myriad of musical styles to offer, and what is featured in anime is only the tip of the iceberg.
Anyway, Monoral is actually a two membered Japanese Alternative-Rock group, wherein both members are actually only half-Japanese. Anis Shimada (lead singer/guitar) is Japanese-Moroccan, while Ali Morizumi (bass/guitar) is Japanese-American. Monoral sings almost entirely in English as far as my knowledge goes, and both members are fluent in both Japanese and English (Shimada also knows French and Arabic fluently). Their discography includes three studio albums and two EPs, with their most recent single, “Origin,” released back in 2010. I’ll try to highlight some of my favorites from the band here along with attempting to feature a variety of their music.
“Kiri” is probably my favorite song from the group and one of my favorite songs ever. Period. I’m really glad that this is the song that was featured in Ergo Proxy against the closing song “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead (also a great song) because “Kiri” is both as good as “Paranoid Android,” and it has air of haunting nonchalance. Musically speaking, “Kiri,” when it comes down to it, doesn’t have too much going on. The guitar is simple, the drums are simple, the vocals are simple, and even the lyrics are few; however, what it does have it executes so so well that its emptiness becomes the key feature of the song. In other words, what seems like “emptiness” turns into a wonderful feeling of airiness and rawness (courtesy of Shimada’s vocals) that corresponds perfectly with the message of the song.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3u5h9cPTBw]
“Perfect Gold” is one of the songs from their album Turbulence that’s a bit rough along the edges, and a tad repetitive. What are the positives? Well, “Perfect Gold” has a heck of a lot of spunk.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhEpLlK5pVA&list=PLC7189602347BF173]
“Goodbye” is a pretty classic alternative song, but it has a very simple but strange MV. The issue is that MV’s meaning is basically incomprehensible in relation to the song. Is that Geisha the “lover” the song talks about who moves on? If it s, that’s not very clear as the entire video is of her getting ready with some interesting camera angles. Nonetheless, it’s a good song—and if someone could enlighten me about it’s meaning in context of the MV, I’m all ears.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-o-I6Ta4NQ]
“Sparta” is tied for my favorite song from Monoral with “Kiri.” As for an objective reason for this, there isn’t really one. However, I really love the pre-chorus and chorus; it’s an incredibly empowering section of the song. Do I need any other reason for liking it?[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjaxYB_INk4]
“You” is very much along the lines of “Sparta,” as it’s one of those head-banging numbers that has an amazing guitar line, forward driving beats, and capped off by raspy vocals. It’s fantastic.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT9p2rmohnU]
“Safira” has a different feel from the tracks I’ve featured so far. It seems to draw on some of the Moroccan heritage that Anis has, though I don’t think it’s really enough to directly call out on it.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H49XJDDqJHg]
“Origin,” like I mentioned earlier, is the last single that Monoral has released. This style is once again very similar to “You” and “Sparta.” I like “Origin” better than “You,” but of course, “Sparta” is still my favorite of the three. I do need to mention however, that “Origin” is probably the better composed of the three, as there is a sense of maturity and cleanliness that you can hear in “Origin” that you can’t quite see in a brash song like “You” or “Sparta.”[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7mu2qqQ2UY]
Ending this post with the song “Origin” would be completely predictable, as the irony and sentimental value is overbearingly in favor of such a thing. Knowing myself, I’m definitely not going to do that, so I’ll leave you with “a song for thought.” Hopefully, it will give you all an incentive to find conclusion through exploring Monoral’s music for yourself.
With that, here’s “Widow’s Stool”:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu3IWSCdKUs]
(Monoral, Youtube Various Uploaders)