I always follow the same pattern whenever I’m listening to an Antony and the Johnsons track for the first time. For the first six or seven listens, I pay absolutely no attention to the actual words. I get so immersed in that heartwrenching voice and the haunting piano and strings that it’s almost like listening to the lyrics is too much for me to take in at first. That’s what happened with ‘Fistful Of Love’ – for ages I just didn’t hear lines like and I feel your fists and I know it’s out of love and I accept and I collect upon my body the memories of your devotion and I just didn’t realise just how tortured the song really is. I was completely blindsided by the beauty of the music.
I’m a bit more prepared now but I was still taken aback with the opening line of ‘Sing For Me’, from their latest release Another World. Mama’s lying on the rotten ground was followed closely by night climbed over the garden wall/found her swelling the well/pulled her out onto the grass. Not many people could get away with such macabre images, and the fact that they are backed by such beautiful instrumentation is pretty bloody mind blowing. It just shouldn’t be allowed!