The past two years have been very fruitful for ANOHNI. An identity rebirth, a boycotted Oscar nomination, political activism in LGBTQ causes, curatorial projects and detachment from The Johnsons has led the artist formerly known as Antony Hegarty to a new stage in her life. While a new direction under a new identity has already made a clear social statement, her Hudson Mohawk and Oneohtrix Point Never-produced album HOPELESSNESS finally saw ANONHI stepping out of a box that has mostly limited her creativity to being held behind a piano and a heartbreaking voice. She’s now venturing into a more political field and ecological mindset; songs like ‘4 Degrees’ or ‘Drone Bomb Me’ are more than mere compositions, they are cries for a better, more aware, and more accepting world.
With a strong list of collaborators that have kept her going, the message and political fight for bigger causes got clearer every time she blasted social media, or during any type of public appearance. She worked with wonder sisters CocoRosie in 2014 for her Future Feminist exhibition and performance series, and the recently released single ‘Smoke ‘Em Out’ is their latest joint effort, a call-for-action against the Trump administration. It states “In the wake of this unnatural disaster, we feel a call to rise, shout, and burn the house down. The future is female.”
ANONHI is now set for another milestone in her cause; her new 6-track EP contains unreleased material that she has performed live while on tour. Paradise follows last year’s Mercury Prize nominee album and sees Mohawke and Daniel Lopatin reprising production duties. However, this EP has allowed for ANOHNI to be more musically extravagant and politically incisive, even compared to HOPELESSNESS, which felt very polished and adapted to the public eye.
The new EP is split between intervention and reflection. Lead single and anthem ‘Paradise’ gives us a glimpse of how important is to reach out for reaction. As her album track ‘Obama’ called out the president's broken promises, ‘Jesus Will Kill You’ dwells on rougher topics concerning bombings and mass destruction, incepting the idea that regardless of one’s religion there’s no saviour allowing an escape from this cruel reality.
Mourning the dead is a recurrent topic in Paradise but the goal is to find light and hope in the darkness. ‘Enemy’ opens the door to reflection, where ANOHNI partially channels The Crying Light’s more ballady mood, from when she was still with The Johnsons.
By ‘Ricochet’ and ‘She Doesn’t Mourn Her Loss’ we hit a peak and we’re ready for closure. The EP finishes with a monologue questioning direction, whether political or personal, and what the outcomes for us as individuals are.
ANONHI can be unpredictable when it comes to choosing the next course of action. From Paradise also comes ‘I Never Stopped Loving You’, a bonus track yet to be heard. To get it you must ask the artist herself in exchange for a piece of your own writing, in which you share your hopes and dreams.
Overall, Paradise is a safe bridge from HOPELESSNESS, where the singer is able to express herself in another wide collection of musical manifestos. The power of the word becomes more important than ever, something that we have gotten used to throughout ANONHI’s career and artistic goals.