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Antony and the Johnsons

Cut the World

Secretly Canadian

Aug 06, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Antony and the Johnsons’ first live album, Cut the World, tells us nothing that we don’t already know about New York by way of the U.K. collective. Led by frontman and songwriter Antony Hegarty (better known simply as Antony), the band creates fragile, porcelain-like orchestral soundcapes, topped with Antony’s indelible falsetto. Over the years he’s oscillated between orchestral pop excess and stark minimalism, subtle shifts linked by his unrelenting passion to understand himself and the world around him. The results aremore often than notastounding. If there’s one thing we’re meant to take from this immaculately produced collection, it’s that Antony and the Johnsons may be one of the most consistent bands working today.

A collection of live tracks culled from albums spanning Antony’s 12-year relationship with his backing band the Johnsons, each song feels like a peek into Antony’s most intimate inner monologueswaddled in poetry of the highest order. That is, until the album is stopped dead in its tracks by “Future Feminism”a talk given by Antony as a call to move away from patriarchal forms of government to matriarchal forms. Despite imbuing the topic with all the passion of a song, he fails to so much as define the term over the rambling seven-minute speech, making it a mission statement better left to the liner notes than the album itself.

The other previously unreleased song fares much better. Written and performed for the opera The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, “Cut the World” trades on Antony’s repeating themesthe dark side of love, loneliness, and mankind’s relationship with nature. A gently affecting track that begins with a barely-there piano line and then grows to a full orchestra, this is Antony at his best: emotive, heartbreaking, and above all, full of life.


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