The Mute Branches is a Lo-Fi Ambient music project founded by UK based musician James Cresswell. Released on September 11, 2020, his new release, The Detective is Dead, is a peculiar yet intriguing trip into some evocative, ethereal musical territory.
Branded as a thematic concept album related to aliens, UFOs, and ghostly entities found while embarking on a journey through the woods, The Detective is Dead encapsules the atmosphere of a Sci-Fi soundtrack. A diverse variety of synth pads swirl throughout each track, including hypnotic warm sounds, otherworldly square waves, and the occasionally more jarring bursts of harsher, distorted waves.
The album contains many obvious influences of Electronic Music from the 70’s through the early 80’s. Artists such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Depeche Mode (particularly the era from A Broken Frame through Black Celebration) and Gary Numan spring to mind. However, instead of the accessible, commercial elements of some of the aforementioned recording artists, there is a stronger Avant-Garde, Atonal presence. I quickly recall musical subtleties of underscores from shows like The Outer Limits and The X-Files with a lo-fi framework rather than a polished orchestral setting.
Tracks such as “Weaver” and “My Legs are Eels” demonstrate the quirkier side of Cresswell’s creative ingenuity while the title track and “Stinky Profession” showcase more melodic, modal, tonal centers. Clocking in at 12 minutes, “Blimey” is climactic moment of the release. It begins as a soft, moody piece with a unique hybrid of detuned acoustic guitars and noisily distorted guitars over a series of alien-like synth passages. It builds up gradually with intensity and suspense, leading to a conclusion of a blistering cacophony of dissonant noise as if one is being violently abducted by aliens. The Detective is Dead would work well for an underscore of a vintage Sci-Fi themed movie or video series. It may even work for an outer space or alien themed video game or computer game. I recommend checking it out, especially with a good pair of headphones.