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Rosa Blackstar

Posts: 712 Member Since: 19 January, 2014

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Jun 12 16 9:30 AM

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It's been over a month since the release of Hopelessness and I'm still unable to find the right words to properly express all my thoughts about it. There have been lots of good reviews of this album and critics have unanimously highlighted their musical quality, talking about so many aspects that I can't add anything else. I can only write about my feelings from the heart.

I listened to the album repeatedly, obsessively, and every time I find new nuances that make it better. Those who have always loved Antony and the Johnsons won't feel disappointed at all by Anohni. She has been absolutely brave carrying out this radical change, both in music and lyrics. Even changing her name, it’s an act of integrity that requires a great deal of courage. It’s like jumping into the void and start again. Anohni didn't want to be stuck in the past, a wonderful past of course, but she needed to move on and evolve. And she has done it in the most intelligent and amazing way that anyone could have ever imagined. Music is now electronic and the lyrics are highly politicized. She has put aside her intimate vindications, to focus on the issues that should be of concern to all humanity. But her voice keeps the same soul as always. It has changed everything but nothing has changed. This is the first of the contrasts that I’ve experienced.

The second contrast is that I enjoy so much listening to these songs, although they have been written more to raise awareness than to bring happiness. This makes me feel uncomfortable and kind of embarrassed. Drones, war, torture, death penalty or ecocide are not things that we've discovered now. We all knew the existence of these atrocities, but now we face them again and again, each time we put the record on the turntable. But the beauty of this album requires me to keep listening to it, almost as an act of masochism.

I look for a way to lessen my responsibility on this road that leads to destruction, but I can’t avoid traveling by plane or driving a car. It's so hard and frustrating to get a balance amongst so many contradictions!

The last contrast is in the songs themselves, in the difference between content and continent: these sad, dark and heartbreaking lyrics are presented in electronic dance music, which often can seem even cheerful.

I can't choose one favourite song; all of them make up a perfect and indivisible whole. I wrote my opinion about "Drone Bomb Me" and "4 Degrees" some time ago here, on this thread. I can say now that I still think they are two of the best songs of the album, mainly because both are like a summary or some kind of axis where all the others are spinning around.

"Why Did You Separate Me From The Earth?" and "Hopelessness" share with "4 Degrees" a sense of desperate love to fight against the degradation of our Mother Earth. The first one is very poetic, with its beautiful metaphors and so angry at the same time.

"A case of white doves
Laying in the boiling snow”


The second one, “Hopelessness”, terribly hopeless, as its title suggests, but so brilliant, with these rhythm changes, which reminds the ones from "Daylight and the Sun", and that voice with such an amazing vibrato...

"I do not give a shit what happens to you
Now we blew it all away”


"Drone Bomb Me" can be aligned with "Crisis". Both are equally heartbreaking, but "Crisis" is in fact the song that touches me more. I feel deeply moved even by apparently simple sentences like "How would you feel?" or repeating "I'm sorry" as a crescendo lament, with Anohni's voice ranging from the sweet sorrow to powerful anger. I can't help thinking of "Rapture" (another song that moves me to tears) when I'm listening to "Crisis".

"Marrow", "Execution" and "Watch Me", are three similar songs by its harsh criticism of the US political system, but this criticism also can be applied to many other countries.
 You know:                                  "We are all Americans now". 
"Execution" is terribly direct:       “If Europe takes it away
                                                     Inject me with something else”

and "Watch Me" is so disturbing: “Watch me watching pornography
                                                      Watch my medical history”


“I Don’t Love You Anymore” is a beautiful love song at first sight, quite similar to the previous style. But can we be absolutely certain that it's "just" a love song? I don't.

"You left me in a cage
My only defense was rage"


"Obama" and "Violent Men," two Anohni's songs with Daniel Lopatin, are perhaps the most difficult formally to start with, but they grow with every listen and both have become now the most hypnotic, mysteriously haunting and radical of the album. "Obama" is like a magical mantra with some of the most shocking and brave lyrics, in my opinion. One of the saddest feelings anyone can experience is to feel disappointed and cheated like a child by anyone. But if that person is the one that governs your country, and in a way half of the world, besides disappointment you feel rage and despair. On the other hand, I love the piano notes at the end of the song. They are a surprising contrast and a kind of small relief after so much darkness.

“All the hope drained from your face
Like children we believed”


"Violent Men" is like a feminist short prayer that inspires me some feeling of hope.

“We will never, never again
Give birth to violent men”


Finally, Anohni’s voice is flawless throughout the entire album and it can go from sweetest softness to the greatest power in the same song. It’s a voice that uses falsetto and vibrato without any difficulty. A voice that expresses all the feelings of the world, with sadness or anger, without ever losing its silk wrap. Anohni can sing about the most sorrowful, hard and awful subjects, but her voice always sounds like a balm, a comfort...

These are just a few lines about a work that deserves a book. I hope someone writes it in a future (do you dare, Ricardo?). I'm counting the days to my concerts in Barcelona and London, and I'm sure that when I come back home, I'll have a new vision of "Hopelessness", even better and deeper. Perhaps then I'll write more thoughts about it... In the meantime, I just say: Thanks so much for this masterpiece, ANOHNI!!!



 

Last Edited By: Rosa Blackstar Jun 22 16 11:17 PM. Edited 2 times

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Ricardo Babooshka

Posts: 155 Member Since:20 October, 2015

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Jun 13 16 11:26 AM

beautiful words, Rosa !!! i love how passionate you are!!!! and who knows about the book hahaha maybe i will start with an article like yours.

when i try to write about hopelessness i feel it's so big and there is so much to say that i can't find a way to condense all that in a bunch of words, so i applaud your courage and your capacity to do that, and i hope you encourage me as well !!!

and i can really relate to how you say it feels almost masochist to listen over and over again to songs about death penalty, drone bombs and ecocide

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Rosa Blackstar

Posts: 712 Member Since:19 January, 2014

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Jun 13 16 12:48 PM

@ Ricardo, thanks darling! You're right, there is much to say about Hopelessness and I only said a few, naive and insufficient words, but very
heartfelt. Of course I encourage you to write your thoughts about this album. I know you can do it, and do it well. image

Last Edited By: Rosa Blackstar Jun 13 16 2:33 PM. Edited 1 time.

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Ricardo Babooshka

Posts: 155 Member Since:20 October, 2015

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Jun 22 16 12:32 PM

i read it again, and i love how you compare some of the songs with hopelessness with past antony and the johnsons' songs that i would have never said had any kind of resemblance. it is a way of seeing how many layers ANOHNI's work has and how many different perspectives there are.

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