One of the most intriguing acts at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival will be art pop singer and composer Anohni.
If there’s something familiar about her, that’s because you’re remembering her from a previous incarnation as lead singer in Antony and the Johnstons, who won a Mercury Prize back in 2005 for second album I Am a Bird Now.
Not one to rest on her considerable laurels, Anohni has been ducking and diving with a laundry list of musical greats that would impress the most cynically-hearted. Even before the Mercury win, she worked with Lou Reed as supporting vocalist on his Animal Serenade tour, and lent her voice to two tracks on his 2003 release The Raven. In 2006, Anohni collaborated with Björk on ‘The Dull Flame of Desire’* and ‘My Juvenile’, with Anohni making guest appearances for duets at Björk’s concerts in New York, London and Reykjavik. Over the years, she’s also hooked up with Yoko Ono, Joan as Policewoman, Reverend Green and Bryan Ferry.
This new sound is worlds apart from Anohni of a decade ago. A collaboration with experimental Brooklynite Oneohtrix Point Never and electronic producer Hudson Mohawke, Anohni’s debut, Hopelessness, is tough electronic dance, layered with her unmistakable soulful vocals. Looking at modern society through distinctly un-rose-tinted glasses, Anohni is driven by confronting tough contemporary issues: government surveillance, ecocide, drone warfare, issues she faces head-on with an appositional political lyrics/dance music enigma. ‘4 Degrees’** is armageddon pop that welcomes the ‘boiling’ of the earth, while ‘Drone Bomb Me’, released two days after the 150 Somali people were killed in a US drone attack, is sadly relevant. Her two shows at Edinburgh International Festival will be a joyous mix of immersive music and dance, and Anohni performing within a live avatar.
Anohni plays Edinburgh Playhouse on Wed 17 & Thu 18 Aug, as part of Edinburgh International Festival
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