Wooden Sword — LP by Mute City

By Pablo Onnias for Boston Compass

January 27, 2021

Providence experimental label Wrong Whole Archival Bureau publishes its eleventh 2020 release, Wooden Sword by Mute City (a.k.a. Sommerville producer Mike Gintz). This second album (the first one released in February, Data Breach) revolves around 11 tracks masterly chaptered together in a downtempo journey, lush and gritty synths orchestrated to effectively generate tension and release, and sound discovery depth sustained by background glitchy textures.


Mute City has been placed on the same shelf as Boards of Canada, early-mid Autechre, Rival Consoles, and I would add an overall early Warp catalog infusion. Mike Gintz is an eclectic artist, taking in, making his own, and dragging you into his world, unfolding hidden layers at every listening session.


While the BPMs hang at the 90/100 mark, a couple of less expected faster-paced outliers lurk in the compositions, and beat-less tracks will draw you into electric grains that jog remote memories.


Stress Cadet introduces a tense inward exploration that will ferry you into a simmering breakbeat state with Agitavalanche, where the strain is fully untangled. Subtle Jazz like reverberating tunes and controlled chaos of Dirtbag, the electro incursions of FX70, and a brief homage to a Carpenter-like corroded and addictive synth melody, land you in a reminiscent twilight zone with Another frozen lake. Glitchless, Deathless is paradoxically balanced electronica sprinkled with broken beats, and poignant leads that flounder you in reach for an ending point, and the drunken melodies of Lesser Restoration take over with spacey beats that disappear into An Obsidian Obelisk: a masterful utilization of VCA/VCO/LFO, and resonance built up ready to discharge into disturbance and chaos, but is politely kept in its cage. The passage with Clean Break's glitchy computers ending unexpectedly (and pleasantly) in a “4 to the floor “, and a final dazed, and heavily panned drony Crossmod Drone, fades the journey into a feeling of completeness… However generating an expectation and desire for more.


The rich interpretation—cross-genre and cross-generation—the personal emotions poured into it, and the quality level production, make this album rich in tension, balanced in its narrative, deep in its texture…Overall, a refined gem.


—Pablo Onnias


Wooden Sword by Mute City can be found on tape format at DAP or digital and tape format on Bandcamp