Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs
Follow The Big Takeover
The Pull of Autumn – Photo Credit: Matthew Darrow
Over the past decade or two, the term ‘supergroup’ has been one of the major buzzwords kicking around the internet. The combinations of what has been possible have boggled people’s minds, ranging from one-off projects, to revolving-door type arrangements. Today the Big Takeover has the honor of premiering the first single off the debut album of yet another supergroup.
The Pull of Autumn is comprised of members of 1970s/1980s pioneering new wave band Fashion, Rhode Island’s Johanna’s House of Glamour, and indie rock darlings Throwing Muses and Belly. Such an intriguing mix of personalities, each with very diverse backgrounds and even genres. To boot, the cover artwork for this album was contributed by James Johnston (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey, Gallon Drunk). Originally called Figure on a Frozen Path, this piece is quite striking.
“Laurasong” is the first track to be revealed from the collective’s self-titled album The Pull of Autumn and the Big Takeover premieres that today. It was written by Bruce MacLeod of Johanna’s House of Glamour, dedicating it to JHoG bandmate Daniel Darrow’s wife, the late Laura Darrow, who was also in JHoG. This track is fantastic, channeling a brightness and romanticism rarely found in today’s music. The Pull of Autumn may end up taking the award for underdog supergroup of the year.
The bulk core of the songs on this initial offering involved a collaboration between Daniel Darrow from Johanna’s House of Glamour and Luke James, frontman of I.R.S. recording artists Fashion.
It all began when Luke James AKA Skyscraper, long-time hero of Darrow’s and his late wife Laura, reacted to the electronic-based music Darrow and his son Matthew were releasing under the name Spectral Assignment. A string of correspondence ensued, followed by file swapping between Skyscraper, who lives in San Francisco, and Darrow, who lives in Massachusetts. Skyscraper would send basic ideas with Darrow creating more elaborate soundscapes to ornament this sound. The Pull of Autumn was thus born.
Soon after, they were joined on several tracks by Providence-based musician John Orsi on percussion and drums, and Newport-based Fred Abong, famed as a founding member of Belly with Tanya Donelly and early member of Throwing Muses with Kristin Hersh and Donelly, on bass guitar and vocals. Jeanne Batting (of Spindle Shanks) contributes vocals on two tracks and Matthew Darrow adds drums to this project. Laura Darrow is even on vocals for one track, a never-released demo from Johanna’s House of Glamour. Final mastering and mixing performed by Bruce MacLeod at MacLeod House in Boston.
The result is very much a collaborative in the vein of This Mortal Coil, but with a different sound altogether. The output is as diverse and eclectic as the respective backgrounds that each of these artists bring to the table (and the studio in this case). This music sits firmly in the same territory as David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, Brian Eno, Popol Vuh, or early Velvet Underground. Even some compositions by Can come to mind.
Luke Skyscraper had a near brush with fame when I.R.S. founder Miles Copeland (also brother to The Police drummer Stuart Copeland) signed Fashion to his label for their 1979 debut album Product Perfect. Between 1978 and 1980, they played shows with the likes of UB40, Hazel O’Connor, Billy Idol, and Toyah Willcox. They also did a UK tour with U2, opened for The B-52’s on their first British tour, and enjoyed stadium tours of the UK and USA opening for The Police. Back then, the recently formed Duran Duran opened their shows. In June 1980, Luke Skyscraper left Fashion after the band’s final London gig with U2.
Johanna’s House of Glamour was active from 1989 through 1997, primarily comprised of Dan Darrow, Laura Darrow, and Bruce MacLeod. They signed to Rough Trade Records for their debut 1990 album Farewell Street, and later, to Cargo Records for Style Monsters (1993), for which they were joined by Fred Abong and John Orsi. A third album, The Dark Flower, was later released on RBM Records, followed by several singles and compilation projects.
“This music means so much to me as I’ve gotten the chance to play music with an artist I really loved and had the opportunity to shape the music into a forward thinking contemporary sound. MacLeod and Fred Abong are both musicians I hold in high regard and their contributions are great,” says Daniel Darrow.
Darrow concludes, “I think of this music as post-rock informed by electronic and experimental music, but also taking elements of a simpler sound as an acoustic guitar. Bowie’s Berlin trilogy was also an inspiration. The chance to meld together different elements of music such as electronic, acoustic, avant-garde and pop is at the core of what we want to achieve with The Pull of Autumn.”
As of August 24, RBM Records will release The Pull of Autumn via keynote online stores and streaming platforms, but the album can already be ordered digitally via Bandcamp
2. Heaven Now
4. They Came Down
5. A Small Affair of the Heart
6. Shimmer Lizard
7. Vanishing Spell
9. Trance Fear
10. Elusive Love
More in news