Autumns is the solo project of Christian Donaghey, from Derry, Northern Ireland. To date, Autumns has been responsible for a brace of singles, EPs and a Mini LP, appearing on Soft Power Records, CF Records, Regis’ Downwards label and Glasgow’s renowned operation Clan Destine. The project has also contributed to the Downwards label compilation The Immortal Eye and the second Phormix cassette collection Light Of Consciousness. 2017 sees the eagerly anticipated release of his debut full length record Suffocating Brothers.
‘Keep kicking against the pricks’
On Suffocating Brothers Autumns presents a resolute nine track culmination of the fierce audacity that has come to define and distinguish the project since an assured first emergence in 2013. Written and produced over the course of six months, between July and December 2016, it’s an album that comes as a momentous and devastating fulfilment of what the Autumns project has outlined with increasingly ruthless intent over the last few years.
Although the scuffed DIY garage and submerged shoegaze of the projects first major release – 2014’s Terrible Tuesday Mini LP - signalled different inclinations to subsequent explorations, the seeds of a severe, tenacious and exhilarating signature were always present and correct. With Das Nichts and A Product of 30 Years of Violence – a quick-fire brace of EPs that arrived either side of 2016 – that signature became refined by an expansive murk and a robust (dys)functionalism. Prior familiarities were overhauled, the lo-fi disarray of before given a purposeful sense of authoritative intensity rooted in the rabid, seditious transmissions of noise music, the slam and discord of industrial and the insistent velocity of techno. These were the first seething indications that, buried beneath the smothered vocal urgency and deluges of distortion, was a synthetic surge and turbulence only rarely found in electronic music’s more nefarious territories.
Suffocating Brothers elaborates on all this with an eye for annihilation. Vocals reiterate like echo chamber death sentences, drum machines rattle and blister, clear-cut and sharp like broken glass, assaultive grinds of static and blasts of feedback suffuse it all like a ruptured maelstrom of FM interference. Yet with this harsh sense of ferocity and obliteration comes a reciprocal compulsion for action and release. ‘I Never Noticed That You Left’, ‘No More Luxury’ and ‘Faceless’ all tear into frantic, serrated analogue rhythms surrounded by an anarchic chaos of corrupted noise, enshrouded voice and blistering percussion. At times, these moments resemble the corrosive acid of Phuture and Sleezy D if their more riotous trax were mired in the irrepressible machine abuse of Whitehouse and SPK. ‘Female Model’, ‘Forgotten Hangings’ and ‘Limit Experience’ on the other hand reveal the roots of Donaghey’s initial inspirations, all shaped in different ways by a portentous strain of post-punk. Where ‘Female Model’ is sinister and stern, a jackbooted dub from the void - like a more desolate rendering of Public Image Ltd’s ‘Fodderstompf’ - ‘Forgotten Hangings’ is Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Photophobia’ reinvigorated by a new voice and a cataclysmic vision, formed of metallic sirens, plundered voices and hails of climactic hiss. ‘Limit Experience’ is a more fixed agitation but no less caustic, a monochromatic psychedelia for the streets and back alleys you tend to avoid. Elsewhere and throughout, piercing, cavernous gusts of drone augment the disorder establishing an atmosphere which is at once stark and overwhelming. The overall effect is equivalent to an unrestrained assailment, a constant confrontation, a total siege.
As a whole Suffocating Brothers is a record unified by an extraordinary depth and physicality that encourages favourable comparisons to the incendiary ends of post-punk, noise, industrial, techno, coldwave, dub and drone. Categorisations, however, are only the half of it. Ultimately these tracks transcend the constraints of any one specific association.
They’re the product of an ascendant few years and together they represent the project’s most essential statement to date. Yet they’re also a consolidation of what Autumns has done all along. To resent compliance and compromise, to spurn limits and restraint, to hunt ecstatic release through extremity. To keep kicking against the pricks.
‘This is living. What’s left but to keep kicking against the pricks?’
supported by 10 fans who also own “SUFFOCATING BROTHERS”
Varg (yes that Varg) is simply one of the best electronic musicians on the planet. His music is always inventive and challenging. I recommend anything Jonas produces in all of his various personas. Burton Thomas