Words by Ed King / Pic by Aatish Ramchurn / Video by Trapeze Film
On 2nd June, MUTES release their debut album, No Desire – out in the big wide world thanks to the Birmingham based FOMA Records. And for anyone in the 0121 there’s a launch gig at COW vintage clothing (Digbeth) on the same day: doors open at 7pm, admission free, click here for more info.
Birmingham Review caught up with MUTES‘ front man and founder, James Brown, at Blotto Studios in Digbeth – to check out our full interview click here or on the Youtube link below. Watch out for the solo performance of ‘Blood’ at 26mins 36secs.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
The first release from MUTES as a band, No Desire is a ‘sprawling’ nine track endevour that works ‘through urgent noise-fests, slow-burning drone sequences and seductive siren songs with assured ease.’ Well, yeah, kinda… I wouldn’t want to write a press release for it either.
Kicking off with perhaps the most obvious track, ‘A Burial’, the first word that comes to mind is Nirvana – as in SubPop grunge and not the end game of Saṃsāra. Nothing wrong with sounding like Kurt Cobain or dying your hair blond, I’d even forgive an awkward morning with Courtney Love… just don’t make a habit of it.
Fast, frivolous, only two minutes long, ‘A Burial’ will probably be the soundtrack to some self indulgent teenager as they raid the kitchen draw to make those all important marks for school on Monday. But it’s not the best No Desire has to offer. Neither is ‘Knotting off the Vein’, the second track on the album, but grab something objective and in under four minutes you’ll be onto the more appealing main course.
(James Brown has been curiously, candidly disparaging about No Desire’s opening two tracks – citing the decision to open with ‘A Burial’ was more “to get it out of the way”. They’re not bad, they’re just not the best representation for No Desire as a whole; the album steps up once you’re a safe distance away from the start.)
Rabbit punch percussion and affected vocals launch ‘Primrose’, as the psychedelic spangle guitar that will be your guide trough this LP starts to embed. Raucous, then reserved, this is heading in a better direction. Makes me think of…
Then we have seven minutes of distorted sound fuzz; in a Spritalized haze we float through the middle of the album before a twenty second six string kiss leads us into ‘Dust’. Beginning as a shoegaze affair extraordinaire, ‘Dust’ picks up halfway and throws itself into a Smashing Pumpkins ‘Starla’ supernova with just over 1 ½ minutes to go. For me, this is where No Desire makes its mark. This is also where I stop picking the album apart track by track.
The beauty of No Desire is a dichotomy of extremes. There’s some ‘noise rock’ fluff, some short hit quick fixes, but those handful of minutes become an acceptable background to something much bigger. To something much better. It’s the marriage of the heavier rock (for want of a better expression) and the circling opiate haze that makes this LP memorable.
Nailed in only three studio days (can’t quite get my head around that) the man behind MUTES claims they don’t have ‘a sound’ but I beg to differ – I think they’ve got three. And when they’re all rolled into one, long, ooze… glorious, even without Lou Reed in your veins.
No Desire, to this set of ears, feels like a step up for MUTES – a more crafted ensemble of songs that are best listened to in their entirety, although the bottom’s not going to fall out if you began from track three.
An album, all the way through, who has the time?!?!?!? Don’t worry, it’s only 9 tracks long. The above word count is 626. The interview below is about 20mins long and No Desire will take you under three quarters of an hour from start to finish. YOU MUST CONSUME EVERYTHING WE CREATE.
But there’s an easier way to get your chattering teeth into this new body of work from MUTES, just listen to the title track first. Or you could always get to the MUTES Album launch gig at COW and see it first hand – either way the clue’s in the title.
MUTES’ front man & founder, James Brown, talks to Ed King for Birmingham Review @ Blotto Studios 01.06.17 – watch out for the solo performance of ‘Blood’ at 26mins 36secs
‘A Burial’ – MUTES (from their debut album, No Desire)
MUTES debut album, No Desire, is out on general release from 2nd June – with a launch event at COW vintage clothing in Digbeth, click here for more info.
For more from Mutes, visit www.mutesuk.bandcamp.com
For more from FOMA, visit www.wearefoma.bigcartel.com
For more on Blotto Studios, visit www.facebook.com/BlottoStudios
For more on COW Birmingham, visit www.wearecow.com/contacts/#birmingham