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Crying Light
     

The Crying Light

4.4 7
by Antony and the Johnsons
 

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The black-and-white image of legendary Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno that adorns the cover of The Crying Light, the third full-length by Antony and the Johnsons, seems to offer a view of a being enveloped in both ecstasy and agony -- or does it? The songs contained here offer something else: a glimpse of a universe beyond the pale of vision, seen only by the

Overview

The black-and-white image of legendary Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno that adorns the cover of The Crying Light, the third full-length by Antony and the Johnsons, seems to offer a view of a being enveloped in both ecstasy and agony -- or does it? The songs contained here offer something else: a glimpse of a universe beyond the pale of vision, seen only by the individual experiencing it. Antony Hegarty recorded and considered 25 songs for inclusion on The Crying Light, before settling on ten. The Johnsons are the inimitable cellist Julia Kent, Thomas Bartlett, Maxim Moston, Rob Moose, Jeff Langston, Parker Kindred, Doug Wieselman, and Will Holshouser. The additional orchestra includes Greg Cohen, Suzy Perelman, Tim Albright, and Lisa Albrecht, to name a few. Hegarty and composer Nico Muhly did the string arrangements. The Crying Light preoccupies itself with very different concerns than either of its predecessors. Whereas the material on I Am a Bird Now focused on sadness -- grasped and projected -- and in some cases real redemption, these songs look at a larger universe as reflected in the mirror of the individual. The natural world, the vast landscape of interconnectivity with all things, seems to be the primary focus on which the individual protagonists focus their gazes. That doesn't mean that the viewpoint of the singer is necessarily more optimistic. If anything, the truth offered here, and there is plenty of it, is acceptance. Musically, the softness and restrained textural lushness -- always propelled by the intimate, mysterious, exploring piano of Hegarty -- is highlighted by his voice that bears the traces of every heartbreak ever confessed, every quiet yet desperate hope ever held, and each prayer whispered to an unknown and unknowable God. Neo-classical underpinnings are entwined lovingly with broken pop songs and secretive after-hours cabaret poems. Check the opener, "Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground." The piano and cello fall together as one slow dancer, alone in the spotlight, keeping memory as time: "In the garden, with my mother/I stole a flower/With my mother, in her power/I chose a flower/I saw six eyes glistening in my womb/I felt you calling me in the gloom/Rest assured your love is pure...." The power of Mother Nature as it echoes inside the individual with all of its power and impersonal tenderness is embraced, accepted for what it teaches as well as what it offers. Elsewhere, on the gorgeous chamber pop of "Epilepsy Is Dancing," terror, power, and beauty are wrapped as one entity: "Epilepsy is dancing/She's the Christ now departing/And I'm finding my rhythm/As I twist in the snow...Cut me in quadrants/Leave me in the corner/Oh now it's passing/Oh now I'm dancing." Curse and blessing, sacrament and damnation. Other standouts, including the utterly gorgeous, elliptical "One Dove" and the single "Another World," reflect similar themes, though always from the projection of the most hidden flicker that seeks union with a larger illumination. Certainly this is spiritual, but it is not limited to that because it also exists in the physical world. Death is the constant undercurrent, but it's not so much morbid as another shade of the verdant universe. "Kiss My Name" is the hinge track, in waltz time with lovely reeds and violins, skittering with a drum kit -- it is both an anthem of love to life itself and a self-penned epitaph in advance. Whatever hopes you held in the aftermath of I Am a Bird Now, they have been exponentially exceeded in poetry, music, and honesty here.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/03/2009
Label:
Secretly Canadian
UPC:
0656605019413
catalogNumber:
50194
Rank:
62990

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Antony and the Johnsons   Primary Artist
Greg Cohen   Performing Ensemble
Julia Kent   Musician
Doug Wieselman   Musician
Leise Anschuetz   Performing Ensemble
Antoine Silverman   Performing Ensemble
Will Holshouser   Musician
Parker Kindred   Musician
Tim Albright   Performing Ensemble
Antony   Musician
Hiroko Taguchi   Performing Ensemble
Thomas Bartlett   Musician
Brian Miller   Performing Ensemble
Anja Wood   Performing Ensemble
Maxim Moston   Musician
Alexandra Knoll   Performing Ensemble
Bridget Kibbey   Performing Ensemble
Jeff Langston   Musician
Danielle Farina   Performing Ensemble
Lisa Albrecht   Performing Ensemble
Sarah Hewitt Ruth   Performing Ensemble
Rob Moose   Musician
Keith Bonner   Performing Ensemble
Amy Zoloto   Performing Ensemble
Susan Perelman   Performing Ensemble

Technical Credits

Barry Reynolds   Composer
Bryce Goggin   Engineer
Scott Lehrer   Engineer
Stewart Lerman   Engineer
Doug Wieselman   Arranger
William Whittman   Engineer
Antony   Arranger,Composer,Art Direction
Héctor Castillo   Engineer
Maxim Moston   Arranger
Keith Gary   Engineer
Nico Muhly   Arranger
Dan Bora   Engineer
Alex Nizich   Engineer
Nick Hegarty   Composer

Customer Reviews

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The Crying Light 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
dyZ More than 1 year ago
Perfect for that cold dark rainy day when you're looking for some introspection. The album is somewhat haunting and may just touch your soul.
Ashmare More than 1 year ago
It was very hard deciding whether to give this album 3 stars or 4. As useless as star systems are for rating abstract concepts like "good", they're necessary for the casual passer-by. To put it mildly, the reasons for my admirations and reservations regarding "The Crying Light" cant be wrung from a mere checkmark, because it is a very peculiar album. Anyone familiar with Antony and his countless projects and collaborations will know what to expect, but those who merely listened to "I am a Bird Now" and wanted more of the same will be frustrated to say the least. Here, Hegarty's "Aaron Neville meets Scott Walker wail" is as emotional as ever, and is fairly heart-wrenching at times. This is nothing new. Antony has perfected his pained mode of communication via Edith Piaf vibrato, and those who couldn't stand his voice before will certainly get no reprieve here. Moving on, the frustrations with the album set in by way of the compositions themselves. Granted, there are some beautiful works here (especially the first few tracks), and there's an overall sense that this is a much more personal work, considering the myriad of collaborators on the last record are absent in the wake of what is now simply Antony doing very quiet meditations on nature. As I said, it is beautiful, but it is also equally maddening. Clocking in at under 40 minutes, the record is comparatively short in regards to past offerings. We also know that Hegarty supposedly composed at least 10 more songs that didn't make the cut. That in itself is a shame, considering a couple of the tracks here (Dust and Water, The Crying Light) don't seem to be up to par. Another problem are the actual songs that 'do' work. As the album is much too short, so too are the tracks themselves. As a result, many of the tracks seem to fizzle out right at the moment of their emotional peak. More than a few songs here seeme less than fully fleshed out and, occasionally, simply unfinished. Take tracks like "Aeon" or "Kiss My Name", and you'll find good songs that had the potential to be great, or tracks like "Epilepsy is Dancing" or "Everglade" which are great, but for much too short a time. Overall the record is a jewel, but one still feels starved after consuming it, like an exquisite meal with ridiculously small portions. It is for that reason, for unrealized potentiality, that I'm at a loss for how to rate it. Take that as you will.
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