Well known for his time in Dead World, as a member of synth trio Nightmares, and his deactivated power electronics project Deathpile, Jonathan Canady has long been a pillar of the American noise world. Now working under his own name, he has recently entered the world of soundtracks and participated in an extremely limited collaboration with legendary artist John Duncan. Suffering and Defiance is his latest purely solo, purely audio work, and it loses none of the harshness he is known for, yet makes it clear his work is anything but harshness for the sake of harshness.
There is no question what the album is going to be like from the opening moments of "Suffering and Defiance Part I": woozy, overdriven noise loops appear immediately, pushing the whole mix into the red. However, there is much more going on beyond just noise. The second part of the title piece appears later on the CD, a rumbling crunch with sustained, sizzling buzz that demonstrates an excellent use of layering and audio textures.
"Invincible Crisis" is similar, but even with a blasted out later of distortion the depth is evident, and with sputtering, wet noises added, the complexity is fascinating. There is less of an apparent loop structure, and oddly enough the more expansive dynamic gives an almost pleasant, welcoming feel to the otherwise unwelcome mood. "Overcome by Catastrophe" (both Parts I and II) go back to more rhythmic, looping structures, but the more apparent droning synth that permeates both segments are excellent standouts.
Of course, there are moments where pure onslaught is the intent, and "Continuously Abused" is one of those moments. Overall, there is a looser, more raw structure, with lots of noise blasts and bursts. The panned helicopter-like noise layers adds complexity, but brutality is obviously the intent. As a whole, Canady focuses more on structure and depth on the disc, such as the sputtering rhythms and heavy stereo effects throughout "Conflict Operation Indicator" where the abrasiveness is apparent, but there is a lot more going on simultaneously.
The CD ends with two lengthy (just shy of 15 minutes each) compositions that were originally recorded separately and released as the digital only Present Shock EP from 2020. With both being live to two track recordings with limited gear, the overall feel is rather different from the album proper. "The Immediate Future" is an expansive of echoing reverberations, with fragments of voice popping up here and there, and eventually chugging noises that stutter and fade away. "Violence Today" drones and swells, with heavy tape echoes leading to an uneasy ambience. Synths sweep and clang as the piece eventually relents to an overdriven crunch to end the disc.
Superficially resembling an aggressive noise record, Jonathan Canady does so much more with those rudimentary elements on Suffering and Defiance. Not in the sense of a massive wall of noise obscuring details, but instead he mixes and layers the elements beautifully. Taking those rudimentary layers of sound and constructing something with so much more depth, it makes for a carefully nuanced mix that can still blow out speakers if someone isn't careful with that volume knob.