No Mono exorcise their beauty on the abrasive ‘Fever Highs’
Lingering somewhere in the background of the elegiac, aquatic beauty of NO MONO’S debut album, Islands (Part One), were always these dark undercurrents, held back from bubbling to the surface only by their masterful use of restraint in their minimalist exercises. You could feel the duo only half-opening-up to you; you could see the tranquil, melancholic surface of their deep ocean of vulnerability, but there was a hesitancy to reveal the emotional undertows that were swirling below. But where TOM IANSEK’s subtle, stripped-back production remained submerged beneath TOM SNOWDON’s stunningly acrobatic vocal performances on that record, their latest single, ‘Fever Highs’, sees the duo plunging into more abrasive and thrilling sonic territory. ‘Fever Highs’ is something of a dramatic identity correction then, the moment when someone fully exorcises themselves to lay bare the gritty darkness belying their perceived vulnerability. I contain multitudes, No Mono are saying.
“We wrote ‘Fever Highs’ when working on music for our debut offerings,” Snowdon explains. “It’s the other side of this project, a stark vibe with real gritty energy that is a big part of our live show and contrasts with the more introspective stories and atmospheres on Part 1 that are so intimate and sparse.”
“Oh, I built up a fever just sitting out the back out there / Won’t you come and hold me for a moment?,” Snowdon pleads on the opening lines of the track before No Mono delve into his fever-state with a bracing, brisk beat and a warping, claustrophobia-inducing bass line complemented by intersecting plonks of heavy bass piano.
Snowdon’s voice, ever the instrument of pure vocal abstraction, plays off the juxtaposed tension between the crunching production and his angelic falsetto whilst also exploring new territory, jumping between vigorous spoken word verses over chopped-up vocal samples and the airiness of the track’s chorus. Snowdown stutters and stumbles over words, lines trail off into the ether as if lost in the fugue of his feverish state as his vocals absorb the fractured structure of the track as a whole. “You, you, you, you, you vanished before my love / Vanished before my loving / Vanished before my loving, loving,” he repeats in a swirling crescendo towards the end of the track.
Above all, No Mono’s music has always been about immersion. On ‘Fever Highs’, they fully exorcise themselves and, in doing so, show how deep that immersion runs.
IMAGE: Jeff Anderson Jr.