THE CRYING LIGHT
Antony and the Johnsons
Ah the world of experimental music, refreshing, strange, different, unusual and cutting-edge, which is all generally a good thing in a time of cookie-cutter music made for radio.
Enter Antony and the Johnsons, a band out of New York which is definitely not mainstream, although not so far across the line that listeners can't relate.
This is accessible experimental music.
Interestingly, Antony released both The Crying Light as a full-length CD and Another World, a five-song EP in 2008, the two seeming very much two parts of the same whole, so both are reviewed here.
There is a near operatic feel to the piano supplied by band lead Antony, who also offers up the stark, dark, yet surprisingly melodic vocals.
Adding to the classical feel of the music is the presence of a string trio made up of Maxim Moston, Julia Kent and Rob Moose. Add in sax, clarinet, a full horn section and a range of additional strings and this is music somewhere between jazz, on a cut like Shake That Devil (from the EP) to symphonic with Another World.
The broad strokes of the music isn't particularly experimental, but wait Antony is far from finished.
This guy is a modern-bard with a knack for unusual, yet compelling lyrics. They are stories of the weird in a sense, yet they work, especially when performed by Antony and his unique and memorable voice.
Songs such as Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground, One Dove, and the others on the full-length CD are dark, with a sullen, sad mood. Yet, as stark as they are, they are immensely compelling. You want to take a trip inside Antony's world.
This is a CD which will stick with you after it has finished playing. It will percolate in the mind, luring you back for another listen, and then another. That is something many lesser CDs fail to do because they are simply homogenized clones of a dozen other CDs by a dozen other bands.
Antony and the Johnsons have dared go in another direction, and the listener is the winner for their effort.
A bit off the beaten path, but well worth taking the chance to wander the way Antony leads. If you look for these, take the pair, they really do belong together as a longer work.
Check it out at www.antonyandthejohnsons.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper March 25, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada