Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light

The Crying Light by Antony & The Johnsons could practically be a redefinition of the term "mood music". I’ve owned a copy now for a little over a week, and in that time have alternately loved it and refused to listen to it for another minute. More than any other recent album I can think of, The Crying Light demands to be played under the right circumstances. That does not include the drive home from work or cooking dinner with my wife. A somber, meditative song cycle such as this needs to be heard, for me, in a calm, isolated setting. Preferably with a good pair of headphones. Any other set of conditions have so far prevented me from being absorbed into the surreal space somewhere between life and death where these songs seem to exist. And unless you are willing to let go - to allow this album to completely possess you for its full 40 minutes - than you are better off setting it aside until later.

In 2005 Antony Hegarty shocked the indie-world with I Am A Bird Now, an album detailing a transgenderation (is that a word?…not familiar with the lingo) that was both beautifully detailed and uncomfortably personal. “Hope There’s Someone” was rightfully one of the biggest hits of the year (well, among snobby music seeking types, that is), and Antony was propelled to the fore of a young group of songwriters (Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens, etc.) being praised for their innovative way with a song. Though The Crying Light doesn’t have one moment in particular as astounding as “Hope There‘s Someone”, it is another remarkably consistent song cycle. The orchestration is often breathtaking - it’s a minimalist’s dream of restraint - and is arranged as a beautiful backdrop for Antony himself. Not surprisingly though, it’s Antony himself that takes these songs to another level. His angelic voice, a haunting falsetto that is equal parts fragility and sorrow, is a truly disarming instrument. It could be the most expressive voice working in independent music today, and makes the album’s universal themes of death and rebirth startlingly personal. It’s been said before and I have to agree - though sonically it bears little resemblance to the normal idea of the genre, The Crying Light can only be described as soul music.

MP3 :: Another World
(from the Another World EP and The Crying Light)

Stream :: Various tracks
Video :: Epilepsy Is Dancing
(from The Crying Light. Buy here)

MP3 :: Hope There’s Someone (edit)
(from I Am A Bird Now. Buy here)

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