A career as a DJ and binge-drinker in several Leeds nightclubs had Brinley suffering from the onset of Hyperacusis, an acute over-sensitivity to certain frequency ranges, emerging to keep his well-developed tinnitus company. Lifestyle changes had to be made but quitting music wasn’t an option.
These conditions over time created a tension, an adversary to battle against and informed the lyrical and musical elements that would mould Department M's sound. Bitter industrial noise crept into the compositions to accompany prevalent lush 80s analogue synth - maybe as a way of inflicting these aural discomforts back onto the music itself.
I’ll Fax You An Apology, the single’s title track, drifts with gentle, haunting vocals as electronics smash and clatter around. It’s a fresh sound; one that is both grandiose, yet full of space and room for reflection.
Department M cribbed it's name from the grey and dour drama, The Lives Of Others on the night Owen recorded the first of these songs last year. That first demo was more designed than written, on an ancient Toshiba laptop with stolen software and a missing enter key.
In between important meetings at the job centre, visits to Owen’s other long-term collaborator, producer James Kenosha (Pulled Apart By Horses) pushed these recordings into a sharp and clinical focus. The sound of the project taking on a surrealist future/retro adjacency, swathes of analogue synthesizer born in the same era as Owen were stained with ad-libbed noise breaks and oscillations.
The results of these sessions, finished in mid 2012, were posted online and attracted the attention of Leeds label Hide And Seek Records.
With a live band now together and gigging, Department M’s 'tomorrow’s world vision of future pop music' demands attention in 2013.
See Department M live:
- 25th March - Old Blue Last, London (Free entry)
- 27th March - Kraak Gallery, Manchester (Tickets)
- 29th March - Wharf Chambers, Leeds (Tickets)