More info on Swanlights by Antony and the JohnsonsPosted by Nikki Benson
Earlier this year, SSG got information that Antony and the Johnsons were to be releasing a new album this fall entitled Swanlights. We now know that the due date is October 12, 2010. Making this news far from average, Abrams Image will be simultaneously releasing Swanlights with a 144 page hardback book containing Antony’s paintings and writings. The album-only version will also include the song “Flétta,” featuring a duet with Björk. This is going to be Antony and the Johnsons’ most thrilling release to date. Unfortunately, we at SSG haven’t gotten our hands on an advance copy yet, so we don’t have our own take, but we do have some promises of how the album was designed to unfold to the listener. Additionally, the artwork in this post is from the new album Swanlights, and it offers a further insight to the upcoming, highly anticipated release. Here are some notes about the new album filtered down from the artist and the track listing. More soon!
While I Am a Bird Now is compelling in its vulnerability, and The Crying Light is a masterpiece of austerity, Swanlights may be Antony’s most wide-rangingly emotional work to date. It is a record that is at moments heartbreakingly tender, and at other times has a joyful gleam to its teeth. Unlike previous work, which was often quite sparsely voiced, on Swanlights the vines in the garden are overgrown and the sound palette has become more exotic; strange percussive elements, John Cale-esque string drones, heavily distorted guitars and symphonic winds and strings thread the song cycle together.
“Everything is New” opens the album with a newborn piano melody that quickly gathers in momentum and excitement. Strings and bursts of percussion carry the song forward in a feral cacophony of sound. Later on the album, the title track “Swanlights” finds us navigating a primordial and hallucinatory world of hazy guitar tones. The enigmatic layered melody of “Swanlights” emerges from a glistening soundscape. A central image on the album, Antony explains what he means by the word “Swanlights”: ”It’s the reflection of light on the surface of the water at night. It’s the moment when a spirit jumps out of a body and turns into a violet ghost.” On “Thank You For Your Love”, Antony expresses a soul-infused sentiment of gratitude, but the song progresses into urgency, leaving behind the 4/4 rhythmic structure and breaking into an emotional gallop that reveals an underlying pathos.
The Swanlights book is a collection of thought-provoking paintings, drawings, collages, photography, and writings. Dreamlike and often bleakly environmental, Antony depicts a natural and spiritual world under siege. Much of the work aches with a forlorn romanticism. In some pieces, the artist draws together fragments of the past, the present and the future to create a ghostly sense of omniscience. One image features a portrait of the artist with his great grandmother’s face projected upon his own, creating a ricochet through time and genealogy. Found images of natural landscapes are stained with scrawls of ink, indicating invisible presence and movement. Some pieces are more conceptual; in “Cut Away The Bad”, the artist removes corrupted elements in an attempt to restore balance. In pieces like “I Want To Help” Antony sews a torn landscape back together with a magical intent.
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
9. Flétta (with Björk)
10. Salt Silver Oxygen
11. Christina’s Farm