New Music – Harper ‘Mono No Aware’

Mono No Aware is a neat little four track E.P from London based band Harper. On the whole this E.P throws a gritty sound on top of four well written tracks. However I had trouble distinguishing whether the band were looking for a polished and cleanly produced sound or something a little more raw. I have a feeling it was the former.

Cast In Stone is the opening track of the E.P, and rightfully so as it has all the pieces to make a stand out rock song, but it lacks something. I felt as if the song missed any real dynamic range, I mean you can see the idea is there and they have thought about the dynamics of the track but it just hasn’t been executed very well. You kind of feel like the song is about to erupt and rattle your headphones but guitars retain a rather tame tone and it sounds as if the kick drum has been dropped in the mix. Where this becomes most apparent is towards the end of the track, where you can tell the song wants to be big, loud and in your face but never really reaches the heavy conclusion that is implied.

This problem leaks into the next track Eastern Road Dance, like the two tracks were written with the same blue print. Don’t get me wrong they are both well written but they do both lack a cutting edge.The guitar work in Eastern Road Dance is superb, with little licks and hooks everywhere that really show what these boys are made of, and its all topped of with an essence of blues tonality. This, coupled with a spatterings of layered vocals, work well in the context they are in and give you another little insight into what Harper are getting at.

On first listen, Bringing Me Down comes across as a simple and effective rock track. On further inspection you can tell that this track is probably going to be the one to get the crowd moving at a show, and it is a really good example of the energy Harper can produce.

As a bassist I must say I was not a big fan of the treble-rich bass tone, which allowed every scratch of plectrum on string to be heard. Granted this bass tone is present throughout but there was something about the way in which it cut through the guitar lines that didn’t sit well with me. Then again I am probably just being pinickity.

Ligature, the final track, shows that Harper can slow things down in keeping with the sound that they have created in the previous tracks. I just want to hear more confidence in the vocals. the talent is there and the voice has a great tone, but they lack self belief, which is a damn shame.

It would probably seem by the way I have laid into this E.P that I don’t really like Mono No Aware, but that’s simply not the case.

Every song is well composed and all fits in with a very solid and precise sound the band are aiming for, however there are one or two minor faults that really stops me loving each and every one of the songs and that’s what really frustrates me about this E.P.

It really does have all the ingredients to be a great record, and the band have done all the hard work by thoughtfully composing this set of songs , but it really does let itself down at the last hurdle.

Words by Robert Hiscock

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