January 25, 2009

Antony's Crying Light

Milhouse: "So this is what it sounds like when doves cry."

The Crying Light's centrepiece, "Another World," which was released last fall as part of an EP is a predictibly subdued ballad that finds Antony's persona caught between worlds. Part of what makes it work thematically is it's (almost) Pauline in its apocalypticism: "I need another world/this one's nearly gone." Pondering his escape, Antony mournfully recollects sites of natural wonder that he'll be leaving behind. The song's beautiful (you might even say, theological) irony is that it's really about this world. Accompanied by the shrill sound of Japanese flutes, Antony cannot resist looking back, hanging on each line until his voice becomes uneasy. Such uneasiness underwrites most of The Crying Light, even when it verges on the sentimental. Compare the official video above with Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno, whose haunting portrait spans the album cover. In fact, play them at the same time, but watch the bottom video.

Any misstep at this stage in Antony's career would indeed be a surprise. Antony's warbling presence is so vulnerable, so personal that it has an almost alien quality, not unlike Ohno's own staggered movements. “Let's take our power back,” Antony belts on “Aeon ,” one of a handful of deceptively up-beat, almost celebratory tracks scattered throughout this haunting collection. I'll admit, I had my doubts. More pastoral navel-gazing: that was my first impression after perusing the Another World EP. But despite it's infusion of pastoral imagery, The Crying Light, is a significant and complex step forward. It's undoubtedly challenging, but it's even more absorbing because of its otherworldliness. And that's where it's power lies.

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