Review : Antony And The Johnsons - The Crying Light
TinymixtapesWhen I first heard Antony and The Johnson’s Another World EP, there was a recoiling that happened. Perhaps because there’s such a shock in hearing music so alien yet so nakedly human. I suppose I don’t reach for this music all too often. In fact, seven times out of ten I probably skip him when he comes up on shuffle. Listening to music is a personal thing, no matter what. It’s something that we have to take for granted in order to get through the day without embarrassing ourselves. And Antony’s music, if I let it, completely destroys me. Perhaps it’s a character defect. Sobriety and Antony can only go so far. This music drugs me with aches and fevers of the most acute sort. It could be elegant and soothing in some sense, but it’s too urgent, too gut-wrenching, too sincere to not break my heart every time I hear it. But once immersed, it’s hard not to feel privileged to be roiling in such implacable wretchedness.
The orchestration on The Crying Light is breathtakingly gorgeous. The woodwinds, harpsichord, and impossibly soft-strings percussion on “One Dove” (his keen lilting of “Mercy, mercy” is one of his most indelible refrains yet) are so lush and perfectly arranged as to make his words seem injected into your blood. There’s an instrumental break (2:53-3:44) that just absolutely slays with its sadness. Towards the song’s end, with Antony singing “Eyes open, shut your eyes,” things get really spooky, with a discordant flutter rainforest creature-like noises. This song is incredible. It can be played again and again and again and still never lose its power. “The Crying Light” is another highlight, featuring droning strings and acoustic guitar and castanets and the usual piano and a slipping sense of time that shoots a chill when he scramblingly repeats the song’s title at the end....full text
LatimesblogsNature versus nurture: The eternal dichotomy haunts Antony Hegarty, the milky-voiced star of post-millennial art song. His transgendered image and aggressively beautiful music force a confrontation with the very idea of the natural. On "The Crying Light," the follow-up to the internationally acclaimed 2005 release "I Am a Bird Now," Antony and his chamber ensemble take the organic world as a subject, decrying humanity's violence against the goddess Gaia while celebrating the bond between the wordless, magical Earth and its many strange mutations -- especially the artist himself.
From the opening track, which suggests one of William Blake's poems reinterpreted by a coloratura Snow White, through songs that challenge fears of disease ("Epilepsy Is Dancing"), birth, death, erotic ecstasy and even the apocalypse (the stately lament "Another World," also the title track of a 2008 EP), Antony follows in the Romantic tradition of celebrating nature as a psychic salve. The songs, set in tastefully fecund arrangements by composer Nico Muhly, relate the singer's evolving consciousness to the planet's life cycle....full text
EwIn 2005, Antony and the Johnsons beat the likes of Coldplay and M.I.A. to win England’s esteemed Mercury Prize with I Am a Bird Now — an improbable amalgam of orchestral, almost funereally paced chamber pop and far-out themes (mortality, sibling rivalry, transgenderism). It's a testament to the otherworldly talents of singer Antony Hegarty, who sounds like Nina Simone with a small tree frog in her throat, that Bird's follow-up, The Crying Light — a haunting collection of ballads that play like transmissions from a mournful, elegant alien — nearly equals its predecessor. A...full text
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