Manchester, UK’s Mono Stone self-titled EP Mono Stone reminds us that art and pop need not be mutually exclusive. That a song can have interesting structure, textures, stories and pacing, and yet still be tuneful, hummable and contain a kernel of emotions.
Being a musician in modern times is a confusing, tricky business - much like walking a tight rope between two skyscrapers. Err too much towards experimentalism and watch people stay away in droves. Make pure pop music, you run the risk of sounding like everybody else and, even worse, saying nothing. You must also find the balance between doing things to be true to thine own self, while still speaking to some imaginary audience. If there is no audience in mind, why bother making an album at all?
Mono Stone strikes this balance, living at the crossroads of pop/avant-garde & hermetic/populist. The Manchester singer/songwriter didn't even intend to record any of these songs, which he's been slowly accumulating since 2013, until receiving prompting from people you'd want to listen to like Edie Brickell and Skylark from The Doobie Brothers.
Speaking for Brickell and Skylark, I can see why they'd want to get Stone's music laid to wax. In a universe of lackluster singer/songwriters with nothing original to say, who can't even play their damn instruments, Mono Stone is a godsend, a one-man symphony of poetry and emotion.
Mono Stone's seven songs started out from a bare skeleton of acoustic guitar and piano, which was then fleshed out with voluminous echo & reverb, dreamy warm synths, and flashes of digital drum machines. Stone's also an accomplished guitar player, as you can hear on album opener "The Weight Of Dread," which is like a stripped down Bert Jansch joined in by a virtual choir.
Many of the songs seem to focus on the spirit inside, the divinity we carry inside, as on "An Empty Boat (Ft. Achazia)." Stone's music seems to transport you to the empty nocturnal world when the world is sleeping and you can really get to know yourself, apart from society and expectations. Mono Stone's music is like an inky pocket of midnight that you can carry with you wherever you go. Thank the pagan deities Edie Brickell talked some sense into Mono Stone, or we wouldn't have this wonderful record!
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