Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
British-born singer ANOHNI, formerly known as Antony Hegarty, quite possibly may not have been expecting the success she has seen in the past year since going solo. Formerly of the chamber-pop group Antony & the Johnsons, ANOHNI released her solo debut, the Hudson Mohawke and Daniel Lopatin produced HOPELESSNESS, to widespread critical acclaim from critics and fans. The stark, electronic production on that album couldn’t have been more of a left turn from her previous work with the Johnson’s, but ANOHNI isn’t using electronic to crossover so much as a means of bringing her message of environmental and political protest to the masses. The newly released EP Paradise is the companion to last year’s album, and it very much expands on its themes of despair and darkness.
With the same producers at the help, the sound of the EP is in a very similar vein as its predecessor. All of the buzz and beeps that shredded through the soundscape on HOPELESSNESS is present on Paradise, but in a manner that is less of a razor-sharp cut and more of a blackened rock that’s eroding due to the rising sea levels. Paraside is earthier sounding than her last album – there are guitars, pianos and organs, strings, low and high pitches of wind, and other natural elements under the surface of ANOHNI’s androgynous baritone. Paradise can be perceived as the merging of the old Antony and the new ANOHNI.
The EP’s true standout track is its title track. This is the song on the record that sounds the most like HOPELESSNESS, so the singer’s newest fans should be right at home with it. With its high-pitched synths and schizophrenic percussion, it paints a picture of what the world could look like if we went the other direction. “My mother’s love/Her gentle touch/My father’s hand/Rests on my throat”, sings a contemplative ANOHNI on “Paradise”. Much like “Watch Me” from HOPELESSNESS, the song paints the “father” as the government that spies on its people, and as of last November, shuts the door on transgender rights. “Your wealth is predicated/Upon the poverty of others/Others must be poor/If you’re to be rich” the singer laments on “Jesus Will Kill You”, a scathing criticism of greed and the woes it causes for so many others.
ANOHNI isn’t siding with Jesus by any means, though. The song “Ricochet” is decidedly anti-religious as ANOHNI speaks her disillusionment of the afterlife.” And if this keeps going/Gonna curse you, my God/I’m gonna hate you, my God”. ANOHNI has always been an outspoken critic of the powers that be, and on Paradise, she sounds like she’s becoming very frustrated at a society that seems to have no capacity for change.