Synths, drones and dis­il­lu­sion­ment

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - LAU­REN MUR­PHY

Thought you knew Antony & the John­sons? Think again. The first solo al­bum by Anohni – for­merly known as Antony He­garty – mixes per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal themes while draw­ing from a mu­si­cal pal­ette that is al­most un­recog­nis­able from her pre­vi­ous fare. That’s largely down to her col­lab­o­ra­tion with elec­tronic pro­duc­ers Hud­son Mo­hawke and Oneo­htrix Point Never on this col­lec­tion, but there is also an un­ques­tion­able sense that Anohni de­sires a mu­si­cal rein­ven­tion to match her newly adopted name.

So­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­scious­ness rank high on the agenda on

Hope­less­ness, an al­bum that lives up to its ti­tle – in terms of lyri­cal themes, at least. That comes as lit­tle sur­prise fol­low­ing her Os­car-nom­i­nated song Manta Ray, taken from last year’s en­vi­ron­men­tal doc­u­men­tary Rac­ing Ex­tinc­tion; songs such as 4 De­grees lament the im­pact of man on the nat­u­ral world.

Else­where, Ex­e­cu­tion tack­les the death penalty, the atonal Obama rips into the de­part­ing US pres­i­dent with a sense of sav­age dis­il­lu­sion­ment, and there are sev­eral men­tions of “drone bombs” – make no mis­take, these are protest songs, through and through.

And then there’s the mu­sic, which couldn’t be fur­ther from the lush or­ches­tra­tion heard on the likes of 2005’s I Am a Bird Now. Glit­ter­ing synths and ex­per­i­men­tal rhythms are com­bined in the fu­tur­is­tic pop of the ti­tle track and the tu­mul­tuous buzz of Watch Me; fu­ne­real or­gans dom­i­nate the clunky heartache of I Don’t Love You Any­more; Why Did You Sep­a­rate Me from the Earth is al­most An­i­mal Col­lec­tive-es­que.

Songs such as Vi­o­lent Men and the tune­less Obama seem a waste of Anohni’s unique voice – but as mu­si­cal state­ments go, this is un­doubt­edly a brave one. anohni.com

ANOHNI Hope­less­ness Rough Trade

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