Antony & the Johnsons
The Lake ep
/secretly canadian; 2004/

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Not everyone will enjoy Antony's music. To some people it can be as repulsive as it is attractive to others. I find it terribly attractive. He has a voice you have never heard before, he sings with the passion of Billie Holiday, with the same weight in his lungs, like an empathetic Diamanda Galas, the most moving tenor ever. This is his debut release for Secretly Canadian, a three songs teaser for his debut album, I Am a Bird Now to be released in February. There's "The Lake," "Fistful of Love" and "The Horror Has Gone." Only "Fistful of Love" will appear on the album.

"The Lake" is an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's poem. Antony turned it into a marvelous gothic piece, thoroughly moving. It is one of antony's less personal pieces yet he successfully manages to dust the poem off and fill it with contemporary pain. The track has been properly recorded (ie: in a studio) and this version is different from the Current93/Golden Apples of the Sun version, and its bareness (a piano, a shy guitar and a discreet cello) fits Antony's voice perfectly, he swoons all around it, exploring every variation possible without ever sounding our of place. It is a marvelous song, one of this year's stand outs, worth the purchase of this record by itself. but it's just the beginning.

"Fistful of Love" starts with a piano, drums and... Lou Reed saying "i was lying in my bed last night, staring at a ceiling full of stars and it suddenly hit me, i just have to let you know how i feel". It's cheesy but no matter how hard i try to fight this, it works, there's something happening here, a time machine taking you to 1973. It's cheesy like "Men of Good Fortune" or "Sad Song." It works regardless. "Fistful of Love" is another variation on the love & pain theme (one of Antony's favourite). Antony sings like Otis Redding this time and his words hit straight to the guts: "i collect upon my body / the memories of your devotion / i feel you fist / and i know it's out of love." Lou Reed, not unfamiliar with masochism, plays guitar in the back. The song is a wild storm ravaging everything on its way, Berlin-style.

"The Horror Has Gone" is a quiet lullaby evolving around a simple line : "the horror has gone / it's become the darkness" a sweet closer to this short but highly emotional trip.

These three songs would have saved an album, i can't help but be confident about the quality of I Am a Bird Now.

-Barbara H

/dec 1st 2004/