The Dublin, Ireland”“based musician Donnacha Costello’s Mono No Aware is an extended suite of tracks that are austere as they are inviting. Each piece, from the lightly punctuated “Mountain” to the more sedate and transient “Saudades” to the ecstatic pixelation of “At Sea,” depicts a pristine sonic moment. Many, like those three, are widescreen, white-noise vistas caught during a digital sunset. Others, like the opening track, “YÅkoso,” and the piano-tinged “Slowly, Through Fog,” introduce more traditionally musical elements, and yet achieve a similarly austere, sedate affect. They speak of Costello’s patience, and they reward patient listening. Every track on the album is the accumulation of subtle shifts that yield a sizable aesthetic impact. On “Slowly, Through Fog,” for example, there’s an increasing sense of echo that consumes what came before; even as the slow pace proceeds, the sense of scope expands significantly. The same could be said of the album as a whole.
As a bonus, just a few days before releasing Mono No Aware, Costello uploaded a decade-old track, “Modul.Stress,” which he’d recorded in 2005 for a giveaway CD in a publication of the Raster-Noton label. “Modul.Stress” is a marvel of hyper-minimalist techo. An incredibly spare beat, a split of white noise trimmed to a truncated plosive, sets the initial pace. It plays out for nearly a minute like the pulse of some high-end, surgical-grade equipment. From there the piece expands in small steps, additional tiny beats here, little pneumatic blasts there, and occasional held tones syncopated and timed for maximum mood.