On the strength of this, it looks like 2009 will be another triumphant year
Richard Banks 2008
In 2005, Antony Hegarty was the name on everyone's lips. I am a Bird Now was a shoo-in for the Mercury Prize, despite moot protestation from the Kaiser Chiefs over Hegarty's nationality, and went on to sell 500,000 copies. Since then, Antony has been very much in demand, with a string of A-list collaborations that puts Mark 'rent-a-horn' Ronson to shame. Leonard Cohen, Bjork, Charles Atlas and Todd Haynes have all enlisted his services, while Brooklyn's Hercules and Love Affair bagged a club hit with Blind, thanks to Anthony's unmistakable contribution.
Another World is Anthony and the Johnsons' first release in nearly three years, and although it’s merely a five track harbinger of The Crying Light (promised for January 2009 and rumoured to be a double album), there's plenty to enjoy.
The EP opens with the title track, which paints a Beckettian portrait of a world dwindling before the eyes of an observer. A simple piano refrains loops throughout, lingering unresolved and groping for closure as the landscape is unimagined. Antony yearns ''I need another world/ this one’s nearly gone''. You'd expect the result to be something unnerving, but with the pace so measured and Antony's voice so familiar, it's beautifully mesmeric.
After such a comforting start, quirky second track Crackagen comes as a jolt. 18 seconds in, a startling chord change reminds us that Hegarty possesses not only a unique voice, but also a talent for striking composition. Next, on Shake That Devil, Anthony's hand turns to vintage swing jazz, with pseudo-military cadence calls scattered over a sturdy beat from Parker Kindred (formerly of the Jeff Buckley band). It's playful, unexpected and shouldn't really work. But it does, and it's addictive.
Sing For Me is probably the lowest point here; it feels fragmentary, and the exaggerated piano rests hinder the enjoyment of an elegant string arrangement. On Hope Mountain, though, Antony's voice comes to the fore again, before a final horn fanfare heralds the arrival of The Crying Light.
Though brief, Another World is a wonderful reminder of a singular and much-missed talent. On the strength of this, it looks like 2009 will be another triumphant year for Anthony and the Johnsons.