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Modern Silent Cinema Solves The Case Of The Cinema Detective

The prolific Brooklyn multi-talent unspools his 27th release in two decades.

Cullen Gallagher’s Modern Silent Cinema adds some musical mystery to your day with the enigmatic soundtrack to the new film The Cinema Detective — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

For his 27th Modern Silent Cinema release in 20 years, the Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist and composer artfully unspools lo-fi, deliberately paced instrumental rock equally influenced by post-rock and modern classical/avant-garde music. Each song on the soundtrack is named after a film theorist / philosopher whose quote accompanies the music on-screen.

The Cinema Detective — directed by Matt Barry — is a sequel to Forbidden Frames (2022), which was also a collaboration between Barry (director, star) and Gallagher (co-star, and composer). Forbidden Frames was a dark satire about a dystopian world in which cinema has been outlawed. In The Cinema Detective, film fugitive Kevin Quartermain (Barry) is hired by the state to investigate mysterious driving footage. As part of his investigation, Kevin asks the help of film archivist Dr. George Kaplan (Gallagher), who has been turned into an AI machine.

Gallagher is something of a machine himself: In addition to his other musical endeavours — and his day job as a library cataloger — the prolific artist has spent two decades making soundtracks for imagined movies (and sometimes real ones). What began in 2004 as a side project for the guitarist — who also plays in the hardcore bands Demoted and Steve Carface, and handles lap steel in Hard Job — has evolved into an epic songwriting exploration.

“I started Modern Silent Cinema in 2004 as a stop-gap between bands, intending just to record a few guitar chord progressions so I could practise bass,” Gallagher explains. “Outside of a few stray songs for bands where I wasn’t the primary songwriter, this was the first time that I was truly in control of the music I was making. This is what made me realize that I not only love playing music — but that I love making it, from conception through performance all the way to the mixing and final release. There’s a hand-made sensibility that is crucial to my practice as a musician and artist.”

To celebrate its milestone anniversary, Modern Silent Cinema has embarked on its most prolific year yet, releasing six albums that explore its past, present, and future. These works — culled from both new and archival recordings — capture the breadth, eclecticism, and growth of MSC over the years. Along with The Cinema Detective, the releases include:

Passages X–XXI (for Solo Piano) | MSC’s second collection of impressionist lo-fi solo piano music.

The Cabinet of Modern Silent Cinema | An archival mix of lo-fi experiments, micro-cassette demos, and three guitar duets with Boru from their project Siodmak.

Anemic Music | Another archival mix that includes several of MSC’s soundtracks, including scores to silent classics like Anemic Cinema and Gertie on Tour.

Aphonia | MSC’s third collection of archival recordings, including a rare 12-string American primitive composition.

• An album of classical guitar works (presently untitled) due in December.

“The six albums being released in 2024 reflect who I’ve been as a musician, how I’ve grown, and where I’m going,” adds Gallagher. “There’s no such thing as a typical Modern Silent Cinema album. The Anxiety of Indolence is more post-rock; Flesh Mother explores noise, feedback, and metal abstraction; The Passion Killer Whose Prison Romance Set Off A Scandal is sort of punk-surf; and Ghost includes shoegaze ballads with vocals (even silent pictures learned to talk). The one constant in MSC is its growth. The December album will be my first collection of all classical guitar work. It feels great to culminate a year of new and old work with a fun challenge and fresh direction.”

Check out The Cinema Detective below, and take in Modern Silent Cinema on its website and Instagram.