Civil Music 65 by Brassica

Civil Music 65 review

Limited to 200 copies.

Ten years after his first full-length effort ‘Man Is Deaf’ landed him firmly in the runnings for DJ Mag’s album of the year, prodigal son Michael Anthony Wright AKA Brassica returns to Civil Music with a deeply accomplished, painstakingly whittled LP of hydraulic electro slickness, rich synthscapes, and hooky, peak-time tearjerkers for the most discerning front-left lifers. ‘Tribeless Gathering’ is a barnstorming testament to Brassica’s stylistic and timbral deftness, touching down in the elusive epicentre of the club/home listening venn diagram with ease.

From the elastic, neon acid pointillism of opener ‘Hop Kweng’ to the mardy, miasmic plod of closing chugger ‘Changa Hill’, Brassica seamlessly segues between avenues of influence, his notoriously omnivorous musical knowledge roadmapping each turn. Raised on a diet of everything from early rave standards to metal, and schooled in avant garde sonics as a student of sound design at LCC, Brassica does a peerless job of sublimating his countless influences into a record of refined, heterogeneous, and most crucially, catchy, club moods.

Less spartan than his more recent oeuvre on Feel My Bicep, and less baroque than his technicolour experiments in postmodern synth pop with vocalist Stuart Warwick, Tribeless Gathering represents Brassica’s triumphant return to the main room, replete with rushy hooks primed for the planet’s finest soundsystems, and passages of heads-down tension bound to draw listeners right to the edge of their seats. Overall it is a concise and refined testament to Wright’s command of spectral sonics and effortless ability to pressurise a dancefloor. It is no surprise that he has also worked as a prolific mastering engineer, tuning music from a plethora of dance disciplines for maximum club impact. This work extends to his own projects (including this one), cementing them as rare expressions of complete artistry from studio to turntable.

As we delve deeper into the record, we are ushered through a series of accomplished and varied club moods, each channelling a unique cocktail of influences, but retaining a warm, ebullient analogue sensibility unique to Brassica’s work. This playful scope of influence calls to mind James T Cotton or Machinedrum’s experiments in dance music form, but Wright manages it all under one roof, wrangling everything from sashaying wub-laden two step to snarling Dillinja-esque FM damage into something inherently his.

Choice cut ‘Change Yourself’ layers an almost Cerrone-like piano refrain over radiant surges of saturated bass, dubby, strobing chords and a jagged, driving break, building to a jaw-clenching apex of dancefloor elation, while the rude, playful half-step of ‘Elevation’ breaks down the vintage speed garage formula into linear fragments, utilising a tight palette of resonant bass slugs, infectious synth leads and Papua New Guinea-style vocal strobes. The aptly named ‘Hold Tight’ fuses heart-in-mouth UK ‘ardkore pads with glissando acid disturbance and surgical snare fills in a formula which recalls the ethereal grit of Nubian Mindz’ 00s experiments in big-smoke break science, while the questing melodic arcs and arpeggiated squarewaves of ‘Pinball Marinara’ could easily have soundtracked an 80s sci-fi epic, beset with sparkling, bare-bones drum programming and hazy beds of sub sediment.

With ‘Tribeless Gathering’, Brassica both irreverently fuses and pays homage to the many unique and weird permutations of UK dance music. The short lived gathering of junglists, ravers and house hotsteppas of a similar name may have long since dissipated, along with the tribes themselves, but across these 11 tracks, he lays a blueprint for a new sound of togetherness.

Tracks list

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