Mono Credit: Mitja Kobal

For their ninth full-length album, last year’s Requiem for Hell (Temporary Residence), this Japanese postrock institution took inspiration from the most famous grouping of circles: the nine that represent the stages of hell in Dante’s Inferno. The record is less austere than the dual 2014 albums Rays of Darkness and The Last Dawn, and not quite as heavy despite the whirlwind light noise of “Death in Rebirth” and the shivery boil of its centerpiece, the nearly 18-minute title track. The loose infernal theme notwithstanding, Mono don’t shy away from mixing in celestial aspects. Recorded with Steve Albini in Chicago, the dense, well-shaped album restores the strings and allows its climaxes and respites to build organically—they’re never too long and never rushed. And as has long been the case with Mono, their solid, tight, and well-built soundscape is honed to its best advantage in a live setting   v