Pray for Sound – Monophonic EP – 87%

Monophonic cover art
“Monophonic” is the debut EP of Pray for Sound, a solo project from Massachusetts. In an interesting twist of affairs, the EP is partly result of hearing loss sustained by Bruce Malley (aka Pray for Sound), who used his medical struggles and hearing loss as inspiration to channel his creative and emotional sides while creating “Monophonic.”
The five track 27 minute EP cuts right to the chase with “Stereophonic” as a short intro screams for attention at maximum decibel levels. With something of a somber light-hearted feel, the track delves into a softer valley before climbing uphill in volume as it chugs along with walls of textured distortion guitar intertwining with spiraling dreamy guitar work and relentless cymbal crashing. From here we’re treated to “Tympanoplasty”, a spacious track that opens with eerie piano amongst rich bass that occupies the low end of the mix. Guitars roar in the background like waves in the distance. I love the minimalist slow down halfway through the track as the highly layered piece becomes just one guitar layer at one point before ascending upward again as it comes full circle.

Retrogression parts 1 and 2″ occupy the next two tracks and is a prime example of how multiple part songs should be. While part 1 is atmospheric and moody, part 2 is a whole different animal, combining marching order drums with ear-splitting post-metal riffs. The contrasting styles of the two tracks is quite beautiful really. Part 1 brings the sound levels and vibe down with a quiet ambient passage allowing for part 2 to shine as the heaviest and most explosive track on the EP. The album comes to a close with the title track, clocking in at just under eight minutes. A beautiful arrangement of high-pitched clean guitars combined with the slow-paced drum work and prominent bass really makes this track stand out as the most polished highlight of the album. When the track hits its stride over six minutes in an overwhelming amount of sound floods both channels as the EP makes one final push to win over the listener with a huge closing that feels reminiscent of how the album began by commanding attention at peak volumes.

In terms of mixing and audio engineering “Monophonic” is as good as it gets. Sound staging is large and the arrangement of instruments is always solid, allowing both guitars and keyboards a chance to shine without neither getting swallowed up in the mix. occasionally the drums do tend to get lost amongst the heavier distortion layers, but that’s forgivable given that I’d also complain if the cymbals were too loud so I guess this whole point is really more of an observation if nothing else.

Pray for Sound feels like a post-rock band that has been around for a very long time despite this being their debut work. The EP treads upon familiar ground for a large majority of the time while still managing to create a few new tracks of its own. I can tell that this is an EP that will remain on my ipod for a very long time. It’s a rock solid addition to any post-rock collection and well worthy of your attention. 9-26-12

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