Antony & The Johnsons, Cut The World (Rough Trade) ****(but only if you delete track two) (From York Press)
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Antony & The Johnsons, Cut The World (Rough Trade) ****(but only if you delete track two)
WHEN an album is described as divine or rapturous, such words can seem to have been plucked from the dictionary in a hurry. With Antony Hegarty, these hymnal adjectives really do capture the music.
Sexually, Hegarty describes himself as transgender; musically, he is transcendent, singing what might be hymns to his own religion, an unusual belief system perhaps, but the effect is simultaneously gloomy and uplifting in a most affecting way.
This largely orchestral album revisits his career so far, only this time in the company of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, recorded live in concert. Hegarty has never sounded so good and so completely other-ly in his personal holy incantations as he does here.
The album has been produced without hum or applause, apart from at the end. This makes everything seamless from the opening title track, a new song recorded in the studio, to the eight revisited numbers. Almost seamless, but not quite: track two is an oddball speech in which Hegarty drones on about the moon and patriarchal systems of governance and – oh, you really don’t want to know. He might be a wonderful singer but he is no orator and strange are his obsessions.
That self-indulgent monologue aside, Cut The World is exquisite, with sumptuous retreads of Cripple And The Starfish, You Are My Sister, Swanlights and Epilepsy Is Dancing (one of Hegarty’s most haunting songs). The recorded concert ends with The Rapture, which is beautifully done – but the whole album has been rapturous in a way that only Antony Hegarty can manage. Just don’t hang around for the lecture.