Recorded last year in Copenhagen with the National Chamber Orchestra, Cut The World is a collection of songs hand picked from the various Antony & The Johnsons studio albums with one new song, the title track, added to the list. The aforementioned is meandering, other-worldly introduction to the performance. Thematically, the need to love and be loved, isolation and his on-going quest to find his place in the world constantly reoccur. These intensely personal messages are accompanied by musical arrangements that are just as spellbinding. The orchestra breathes a new life into the music with piano, string and woodwind instruments shining through on almost every track.
On ‘Future Feminism’ Antony Hegarty explores various ideas. For instance, what if God was a girl? What if Allah was a woman? His view that “without feminine governance we don’t have a hope for this planet” is heavy subject matter to say the least. Weirdly though, the vulnerability and almost child-like sincerity of this speech makes it less intimidating and more accessible then you might expect. This same approach also finds its way into every lyric and melody of his music.
‘Swanlights’ begins as a melancholy ballad gradually building to a crescendo that sounds as though the sun has finally burst through the clouds after the storm. In his unique, gender defying tone, Antony sings “I’m living, it’s a golden thing, it means everything”. Life affirming sentiments like these provide welcome glimpses of light in these stunning, yet at times, overwhelmingly emotional songs. ‘Kiss My Name’ is a sonic departure, with a rolling, militant beat and assertive horn arrangement serving as a rare tempo boost.
Fans of Hegarty’s studio albums should appreciate this as a nice accompaniment to their collection. With songs that have been described as the musical equivalent of being hit by a truck, his signature ballads, filled with gut wrenching honesty may not be for everyone. If you listen with an open mind and heart, however, you just might discover something very beautiful.