On her debut solo LP Hopelessness, Anohni – formerly Antony Hegarty – emerges confidently from the chamber pop shadows of the now-inactive Antony and the Johnsons. Brooklyn synth provocateur Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) and Glaswegian dance producer Hudson Mohawke (Ross Birchard) man the boards here, wedding an avant-garde vision with EDM trappings.
Birchard’s buzzsaw synthesiser textures on ‘Drone Bomb Me’ serve as the backdrop to an ardent denouncement of America’s drone warfare tactics. The title track, meanwhile, relates transgender experience to climate change. Lopatin here conjures a soundscape replete with strings and R&B vocal layering. “How did I become the mother of this son?” Anohni begins. Later, she sings: “I don’t care about me / I feel the animals and the trees / They got nowhere to go.” Her vocals quaver as though in anticipation of a crushing blow.
When she was denied an opportunity to perform her contribution to the Racing Extinction soundtrack at the 2016 Oscars, Anohni suffered the kind of indignity which LGBTI people are all too familiar with. Hopelessness is a response to the raging debate around diversity; it’s a shot across the bow to steadfast conservatives and ambivalent progressives alike. Anohni doesn’t just seek visibility – she demands it.
Anohni performs Hopelessness live with Oneohtrix Point Never at Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House later this month – check out the full details here.