Given Antony's omnipresence in the independent music scene over the past few years, it's surprising to remember that his debut release in 2005 was also his last. Since that time, his persona has expanded to a surreal degree. Live shows, film contributions, collaborations with the likes of Bjork and Hercules & Love Affair, and more have catapulted him into a multi-genre, multi-media name. We've long since learned that he's capable of far more than making music, but it is his music to which we return on the Another World EP.
A sort of pre-release teaser for the upcoming album The Crying Light (due in early 2009), Another World is more of a reminder of Antony and the Johnsons' roots than it is a move into uncharted territory. Simple, piano-driven melodies rely mostly on Antony's vocals for embellishment here; for any other artist, the singer-songwriter classification would be inevitable. Still, there's no question that outside cultural and creative influences drive Antony's work. This is theatrical music, and it is carefully planned to build, crescendo, and become quiet as such.
With this schematic in mind, the title track opens with an eerie calm that rolls into soothing harmonies, addressing the close-to-home notion of our world disappearing. From there, "Crackagen" is nothing short of pretty; quiet and lilting, it sets a stark contrast with the menacing "Shake That Devil". By far the standout track on the EP, "Devil" brings jazzy horns and drums into the mix as animal after animal is evoked as a metaphor for evil. Here, the drama peaks and the descent back into calm is completed with "Sing For Me" and "Hope Mountain", each telling its own story but blending together for an ending that leaves the listener pacified.
It would make sense to view Another World as a theatrical preview for what is to come: The Crying Light is likely to continue on in familiar territory, drawing on all of Antony's influences while still remaining a welcome return to the musical form.