Antony and the Johnsons will release their new album, “Swanlights”, on October 11th through Rough Trade Records. Abrams Image will simultaneously release a special edition of “Swanlights” which will include the CD inside a 144-page hard cover book containing Antony’s paintings, collages, photography and writing. The album only version of “Swanlights” on Rough Trade Records will also include the song “Flétta”, a duet with Björk. The album and book are a continuation of Antony’s work exploring his connection to the natural world.
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.