Antony and The Johnsons - Cut the World
Antony Hegarty and his band The Johnsons have a real knack for mixing beauty and pain. Over the group's four studio albums to date, Antony's powerful and enticing voice has seamlessly intertwined with the hurt-filled stories that his lyrics tend to tell.
The group's new live album, Cut the World, makes this combination seem all the more noticeable. Recorded with the Danish National Orchestra in Copenhagen, most of the songs on Cut the World come from previous albums (including the big names "You Are My Sister" and "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy"), but have been reinvented on a broader scale. Every one of the older songs seems to benefit from the orchestra treatment, sounding more ethereal than ever.
The only new tracks on the record are the title song, "Cut the World", and about eight minutes of Antony talking to the audience on the track "Future Feminism". Though it mightn't sound like much, these additions alone make the album worth a look.
"Cut the World", which was written for a new musical called The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, grapples with what it is like to live in an unjust society. Though it doesn't have many lyrics, those it does have are used to great effect, with Antony belting out the brave question "when will I turn and cut the world?" with such conviction that it's near impossible not to get swept up in it.
"Future Feminism", on the other hand, offers an interesting insight into Antony's mind as he speaks of the need to move away from patriarchal systems of governance, debates whether we come from this world or the next, and acknowledges unnecessary disapproval from some quarters of transgender people such as himself.
With his eloquent manner and interesting (sometimes abstract) ideas, Antony comes across as super genuine.
If you didn't know that Cut the World was a live record you would probably have a hard time knowing. Other than "Future Feminism" and a few claps at the end, the music is powerfully executed.
With a set of pipes like Antony's, it's no suprise he's worked with talents like Rufus Wainwright, Boy George, Bjork and Lou Reed.
Cut the World isn't an album for all moods. There sure aren't any dance hoppers, and some of the songs require a certain openness to darkness, like "Cripple and the Starfish", a beautifully flowing song about sadism.
Though it isn't an all-rounder, when you're in the right mood Cut the World offers a great spread of Antony and the Johnsons' work in an ear-melting format.
4 out of 5.
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