Antony and the Johnsons Swanlights 180g Vinyl LP + Download
While I Am a Bird Now (2005) was arresting in its simplicity and vision and The Crying Light (2009) is a masterpiece of austerity, 2010's Swanlights may be Antony And The Johnsons' 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 his work to date. Whereas on The Crying Light, Antony 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," he 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 territory.
Antony and the Johnsons Swanlights Track Listing:
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
10. Salt Silver Oxygen
11. Christina's Farm