Home to such innovative minds as Om Unit, Ital Tek and Jon Convex, London’s Civil Music imprint continues the hunt for idiosyncratic artistry with Man Is Deaf, the latest album from Michael Anthony Wright, aka Brassica. Having produced a total of two EPs for the label over the past two years, and with only a handful of previous releases before that (including his debut LP for Tartaruga Records back in 2008), Wright is not exactly the most prolific act, but then the creative gene can be such a fickle one.

Man Is Deaf adds eleven new tracks to Wright’s catalogue, each further indulging his nostalgic tendencies. Whether reliving new wave through the heartfelt vocals of singer-songwriter Stuart Warwick in ‘Dance’, or harnessing the subtle yet irresistibly groovy sounds of Italo house in ‘Turn Me’, synth-driven electronica is the order of the day. Wright blends genres with ease; ‘Tears I Can Afford’ sees experimentation with both electro and acidic lines, whilst the submerged sonics of ‘The Lodger’ form a thick soup of techno and trance, complete with a bassline vaguely reminiscent of Zombie Nation‘s 1999 hit ‘Kernkraft 400’ (minus the neon spandex vibe).

Despite the large array of influences, Man Is Deaf remains cohesive throughout due to Wright’s heavy use of Moog and Fender Rhodes. On occasion, this can lead the album to teeter on the brink of tedium, mirroring the kind of mind-numbing synth overload common amongst the current crop of indietronica wannabes. Thankfully though, there is enough beat pattern variation to avoid falling into oblivion completely.

Closer ‘No Apocalypse’ finds Wright contrasting cosmic chimes against a guttural drone. The track gradually increases in power and technicality throughout – a fitting end to an album which demands time to reflect and appreciate.

Ben Hindle

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