Anohni: Hopelessness (Rough Trade)

 |   |  1 min read

Anohni: Watch Me
Anohni: Hopelessness (Rough Trade)

Formerly Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), Anohni here fully embraces not just his femininity but leaps straight into brittle and often dazzlingly appropriate electronica from Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never.

And – still often deploying that gorgeously aching, soulful voice — becomes more overtly political than she has been previously.

The piece Obama here offers a darkly declamatory litany of the disreputable legacy of the out-going president (Guantanamo, drones attacks etc) from one who was a Barack cheerleader and early supporter; the bouncy pop of Execution is skewered by the lyrics (“Execution, it's an American dream”); 4 Degrees addresses climate change over urgent, apocalyptic and strident drums and horns (“I want to see this world boil, it's only four degrees”) and Drone Bomb Me invites a similarly end-of-days martyr's vision (“I want to die . . . explode my crystal guts”).

This is emotionally and musically powerful stuff which both repels and embraces, and succeeds by virtue of the angry, sometimes heartbroken sincerity of her sentiments and delivery.

As often as the staccato electronica pushes the listener away it also seduces, as on the almost romantic Watch Me about the constant surveillance (by the protective “Daddy”) we live with unquestioningly in the 21st century.

Crisis follows the inevitably violent consequences of drone strikes murdering civilians and imprisoning the innocent at Guantanamo (“Now you're cutting heads off innocent people on TV”) and on I Don't Love You Anymore she deploys that gorgeous voice on an ethereal ballad about abandonment.

Anohni never sounds bluntly accusatory here, because she points the finger back at herself for her own complacency (the yearning “I'm sorry, I'm sorry” on Crisis), naivety, indifference and inaction: “After all I'm partly to blame,” she sings on Drone Bomb Me and (on behalf of rapacious humanity) “How did I become a virus?” on the title track.

Rarely has there been such a powerful personal and political reinvention and -- although this is more in the lineage of somewhat difficult art music alongside the likes Scott Walker -- it also redraws the possibilities of popular music which are impossible to unhear

Or respond to at an emotional and visceral level.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Polar Bear: Peepers (Leaf/Southbound)

Polar Bear: Peepers (Leaf/Southbound)

This fiery UK jazz quintet helmed by acclaimed young drummer/composer Seb Rochford (interviewed here) has really caught the attention of the British jazz (and elsewhere) imagination: they were... > Read more

Mandolin Orange: This Side of Jordan (YepRoc/Southbound)

Mandolin Orange: This Side of Jordan (YepRoc/Southbound)

This North Carolina duo of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz mine a well-worked seam of Americana with acoustic guitars, flattened harmonies, mandolin, Appalachian fiddle and so on. Which means... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER JULIAN REID with a photo essay of characters in London's Brick Lane

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER JULIAN REID with a photo essay of characters in London's Brick Lane

Julian Reid is a musician, graphic designer and photographer who has lived in London for 10 years. A sample of his downbeat/chill music is available for free download from Deep East Music... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Jimmy Christmas of the D4

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Jimmy Christmas of the D4

When the line-up for the Auckland City Limits Festival -- which takes place on March 3, see details below -- was announced, there was understandable excitement about the billing of Grace Jones,... > Read more