Owen Brinley’s been knocking around the north of England for a while now, most notably as the ethereal vocalist from rock quartet Grammatics, who disbanded after they ran out of money. Two years of DJing in Leeds nightclubs and one diagnosis of Hyperacusis later (severe tinnitus), Brinley has returned with solo project Department M, which hears him put down the guitar and pick up a Roland Juno-60 Keyboard instead. The result is quite spectacular.

Layers of off-kilter drumbeats, heavily textured synths and ghostly vocals give way to a sweeping, darkly atmospheric debut. Whilst listening to the numb, church-like drones of ‘Sleepwalker’, or the intermittent scratches of white-noise that build in ‘Absentic’, one can’t help but wonder if Brinley’s unfortunate case of Hyperacusis might not have been such a bad thing after all. It may have given rise to pleasingly offbeat swathes of sound that can only come from someone so aurally aware.


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