Since releasing their breakthrough second album, 2005’s I Am a Bird Now, Antony and the Johnsons have been swimming in a pool of critical adoration. Any misstep at this stage in Antony’s career would indeed be a surprise. With a weird infusion of pastoral imagery and the macabre, The Crying Light is a significant and complex step forward. Antony has found a kindred spirit in the legendary Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno, whose haunting portrait spans the album cover. Antony’s warbling presence is so vulnerable, so personal that it has an almost alien quality, not unlike Ohno’s own staggered movements. “Let’s take our power back,” Antony belts on Aeon, one of a handful of deceptively upbeat, almost celebratory tracks scattered throughout this haunting collection. The Crying Light is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s even more absorbing because of its otherworldliness. And that’s where it’s power lies.
Published in Volume 63, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 5, 2009)