Anohni – Paradise EP (Rough Trade)

The new 6 track EP Paradise from the artist known as Anohni continues the path taken by last year’s Hopelessness. It starts with an ominous rumble and plea to imagine the world without war and ends with a spoken word piece that poses questions about  How are we gonna make the world a better place to live?  According to the press release, it even aims “to support activist conversations and disrupt assumptions about popular music through the collision of electronic sound and highly politicised lyrics.”

After a series of challenging gigs to support 2016’s album that sometimes saw her performing in a full Burkha, you might have expected the intensity to have dropped a little.It has not.  The political statements haven’t changed, the declarations are not any easier to swallow and the Bjork-like musical toolbox is still in use.

Even the same production team of Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke are in place. It feels like more of the same, more songs from an artist on a roll. Great hooks, interesting inventive musical beds and a strong voice that has something to say. It coos, it curses, chastises and cuddles sometimes within the same song.

The ironically-named title track captures the feel of the whole enterprise with it’s alternating declarations of hope and hopelessness. Musically it’s bass heavy beats and pretty arpeggios. ending with a choir and a low bass drone before bursting into the treated vocals of Jesus Will Kill You with it’s refrain of “You’re A Mean Old Man”.

There is no missing the message in these songs. If you believe in a relationship between the outside world and your sense of well-being, then you are in the right place. The self-doubt and identity crises of Your Enemy and Ricochet apply to both worlds. It does at times feel like you are being confronted by someone at the front of a demonstration march yelling slogans in your face and this could get tiresome if the tunes weren’t so damn good. Ricochet especially is a storming tune that beats out it’s chorus into your head.

The final track, She Doesn’t Mourn Her Loss, is somewhat of an audio relief with it’s  intimate vocal and spacey synth bed. It sounds like David Sylvian with something serious to say.  However, even this dreamy piece remains on message merging into a spoken word ending that acts like a conclusion to an essay.

This EP is a slab of intense political statements that reflect the viewpoint that even the personal is political and it sounds like a soundtrack to a future time thanks to its genre-breaking compositions. A future when religion doesn’t hurt you, war is not ravaging parts of the world and above all, there is hope for a better future and who doesn’t want that?

Brent Giblin