Antony and the Johnsons
The Lake

Cover Image

Antony & The Johnsons - The Lake - EP

November 2, 2004
US 12"/CD EP Secretly Canadian SC113
  1. The Lake - [MP3]
  2. Fistful of Love - [MP3]
  3. The Horror Has Gone - [MP3]

Lou Reed - guest vocals and guitars on song 2.

This brief, three-song EP is being released as a spacer to tide fans over until the new Antony and the Johnsons full-length album I Am A Bird Now is released February of next year. New material from NYC's premiere torch-song singing androgyne is long overdue, the artist not having released any new material since 2002's I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy EP, and no full-length since his superlative 1999 debut on Durtro. In these intervening years, Antony's cult of adoration has grown considerably, with established NYC artists Lou Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson promoting the artist, playing a number of shows together. Antony has made guest vocal appearances on two of Lou Reed's recent albums, and he contributes vocals to campy queer troubadour Rufus Wainwright's most recent album Want Two. It seems that success has agreed with Antony, as the songs and lyrics on The Lake evidence a decidedly more positive outlook than the depressing song suite of his first album. According to Antony, "The Horror Has Gone," "That terror was not fright/but a tremulous delight," and "I feel that heat/And I know it's love." There are no more rivers of sorrow or Hitlers in his heart, I suppose. Even despite my usual preference for melancholy, The Lake EP is a terrific little taster, all three songs showcasing the singer/songwriter/arranger at the very height of his craft. The title track will be recognizable to those who have heard the Current 93/Antony split Live at St. Olave's Church EP, a moving adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's mysterious lyric poem. I'm not sure if it's a coincidence that Lou Reed's The Raven, a dire concept album about the decadent author, coincided with Antony's fascination with Poe, but either way it's a beautiful song, though I prefer slightly the simpler arrangement and vocal style of the earlier live recording. "Fistful of Love" is the EP's centerpiece: an upbeat, jazzy number about the fear of admitting you're in love in someone. Lou Reed does a guest vocal spot on the EP, contributing some terse spoken lyrics and electric guitar. It's one of Antony's busiest arrangements, with a full brass section and a distinct rock vibe, but he pulls it off brilliantly. The final track is the brief, delicate "The Horror Has Gone," in which Antony celebrates the passing of a deep depression, playing the piano, accompanied by Julia Kent's beautiful cello. I've been enjoying this EP thoroughly, and it affirms what many people already know: Antony's voice is one of the most amazingly expressive instruments around. Those who don't get it, never will; those who love it, will always come back for more. - Jonathan Dean