While "I Am a Bird Now" was arresting in its simplicity and vision and "The Crying Light" is a masterpiece of austerity, "Swanlights" may be Anohni's most wide-ranging emotional work to date. It is a record that is at moments excruciating and tender, and at other times has a wicked gleam to its teeth. Musically it's the most maximal of her work to date. Whereas on "The Crying Light", Anohni paired everything back to its most distilled and essential, on "Swanlights" the vines have become overgrown and the sound palette has become more exotic, strange percussive elements, John Cale-esque string drones, heavily distorted guitars and symphonic voicings thread the song cycle together.
"Everything is New" opens the album with subtle piano and an insistence that each moment takes its own breath and is reborn. Strings and bursts of percussion carry the melody as it soars through a cacophonous wilderness. "The title track finds us navigating a primordial and seemingly amorphous plane of expanding guitar tones and an almost Eastern influenced melody, exclaiming the elusive, magical and perhaps ominous, even dangerous majesty of "the Swanlights on the water, on that shining face". On "Thank You For Your Love", she repeats what at first seems to be a simple sentiment and infuses it with a gradually escalating sense of urgency, breaking completely from the 4/4, Otis Redding-esque structure of the song into much more intense. over.
The book is a collection of visual art, thought-provoking dreamscapes composed of paintings, drawings, photography, collage, song lyrics, and writings. Often fragmentary images, these pieces capture liminal states and elements of the unconscious. Some images are reclaimed and reconfigured in order to transcend their previous form. The intersecting mediums inform each other and create an interesting dialogue with Anohni's music, her creative muse, and personal mythology.
"Swanlights" is the fourth Antony and the Johnsons album and the follow up to the critically acclaimed smash "The Crying Light" which topped year-end best of lists across the globe in 2009. Anohni burst into the international spotlight with her second album, "I am a Bird Now", which won the UK's prestigious Mercury Music Prize.
(SC215 released: 10/05/10)