Antony and the Johnsons Swanlights (Due October 12, 2010)
Album to be Released Secretly Canadian; Book to be released by Abrams Image
Antony and the Johnsons will release their new album, “Swanlights”, on October 12th in the US via Secretly Canadian. Abrams Image will simultaneously release a special edition of “Swanlights” which will include the CD inside a 144-page hard cover book containing Antony’s paintings, collages, photography and writing. The album only version of “Swanlights” on Secretly Canadian will also include the song “Flétta”, a duet with Björk. The album and book are a continuation of Antony’s work exploring his connection to the natural world.
While I Am a Bird Now is compelling in its vulnerability, and The Crying Light is a masterpiece of austerity, Swanlights may be Antony’s most wide-rangingly emotional work to date. It is a record that is at moments heartbreakingly tender, and at other times has a joyful gleam to its teeth. Unlike previous work, which was often quite sparsely voiced, on Swanlights the vines in the garden are overgrown and the sound palette has become more exotic; strange percussive elements, John Cale-esque string drones, heavily distorted guitars and symphonic winds and strings thread the song cycle together.
“Everything is New” opens the album with a newborn piano melody that quickly gathers in momentum and excitement. Strings and bursts of percussion carry the song forward in a feral cacophony of sound. Later on the album, the title track “Swanlights” finds us navigating a primordial and hallucinatory world of hazy guitar tones. The enigmatic layered melody of “Swanlights” emerges from a glistening soundscape. A central image on the album, Antony explains what he means by the word “Swanlights”: ”It’s the reflection of light on the surface of the water at night. It’s the moment when a spirit jumps out of a body and turns into a violet ghost.” On “Thank You For Your Love”, Antony expresses a soul-infused sentiment of gratitude, but the song progresses into urgency, leaving behind the 4/4 rhythmic structure and breaking into an emotional gallop that reveals an underlying pathos.
The Swanlights book is a collection of thought-provoking paintings, drawings, collages, photography, and writings. Dreamlike and often bleakly environmental, Antony depicts a natural and spiritual world under siege. Much of the work aches with a forlorn romanticism. In some pieces, the artist draws together fragments of the past, the present and the future to create a ghostly sense of omniscience. One image features a portrait of the artist with his great grandmother’s face projected upon his own, creating a ricochet through time and genealogy. Found images of natural landscapes are stained with scrawls of ink, indicating invisible presence and movement. Some pieces are more conceptual; in “Cut Away The Bad”, the artist removes corrupted elements in an attempt to restore balance. In pieces like “I Want To Help” Antony sews a torn landscape back together with a magical intent.
Music and visual art intersect in these two presentations of Swanlights to create an arresting vision of the world through the artist’s eyes.
Swanlights is the fourth Antony and the Johnsons album and the follow up to the critically acclaimed “The Crying Light” which entered the European Chart at #1 was included in year-end best of lists across the globe in 2009. Antony burst into the international spotlight with his second album, “I am a Bird Now”, which won the UK’s prestigious Mercury Music Prize.
1. Everything is New
2. The Great White Ocean
4. I’m In Love
7. The Spirit Was Gone
8. Thank You For Your Love
9. Flétta (with Björk)
10. Salt Silver Oxygen
11. Christina’s Farm