A one-man band formed in James Brown’s bedroom in Birmingham just last year, Mutes has wowed people across the country with a solo show made up of loops, pedals, samples and reverb and now he releases his debut self-titled EP via One Note Forever Records.
Echoed vocals open the EP on the strongly titled ‘Hope, etc’, a song that gradually progresses and gets louder and louder, while retaining the essence of Bon Iver in its delivery. With an almost hypnotic looping sound, James’ delicate vocals are gradually layered and combined to offer a sound that is quite breathtaking – and then all the work is gloriously undone amidst a mountain of feedback. ‘M.P.D.G’ is instantly more direct with an 80s indie-pop vibe that has a strong undercurrent of shoegazey bliss. ‘Port Sunlight’ is altogether more ambient, with the whispers, hushes and acoustic strums showcasing a different side to Mutes – one that is dark, a little disconcerting, but altogether entrancing.
As the EP heads towards its climax, you are left in no doubt where Mutes’ influences lie – there are elements of Doves, Air, Slow Dive and even The Appleseed Cast in their cinematic and grandiose sound. The final ‘Smother’ has a more jangly full band sound (it’s hard to comprehend this is the work of one very talented young man) than what has come before and would fit nicely on Grandaddy’s ‘The Sophtware Slump’. The wonderful lo-fi approach and alluring guitar effects gradually dissolve into a heart-warming finish. Don’t mute this record – turn it up and drift away to the dream pop.