Week 206: “Mono No Aware” by Hammock


I have to admit, I was a bit confused by the title of this song at first. Was the band making a statement about how people who have mono are so tired that they don’t know what’s happening around them? Was it a warning that unless you listen to their music in stereo, you won’t get it?

As it turns out, I was reading the title in the wrong language. It’s not English, but Japanese. After a brief moment of feeling like a total idiot, I looked up the meaning of the phrase, and found it pretty interesting.

It’s a term coined in the 1700s, during Japan’s Edo period. Roughly translated, it means “a sensitivity to ephemera”. In other words, if you understand that everything is impermanent, that all experiences, all feelings, all things are temporary, you will appreciate their beauty more fully.

I like that. And now that I know the title’s real meaning, I can appreciate the song’s beauty a bit better, too.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The main piano loop, played in reverse, has no reverb, as compared to the distant echoing noises that layer themselves on top of the piano as the song progresses.

2. The video, which features images of impermanent things, particularly handprints left on windows.

3. The cello, added when Hammock remastered the song in 2013.

Recommended listening activity:

Watching a whirlpool form as water drains from the sink.

Buy it here.