Single Review: ANOHNI and the Johnsons – Sliver of Ice
Anohni, the visionary musician behind Anthony and the Johnsons, is a chamber pop icon. Known for her quavering vocal stylings, ambitious production style and bold yet delicate songwriting, she changed her public moniker to ANOHNI in 2015, which she has been releasing as ever since. Eight years later, she has returned with her old band under the new name ANOHNI and the Johnsons. Her music retains that electronic vocal production style that she has become known for (the first ANOHNI record was co-produced by Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke), but also brings back the live band sound synonymous with Anthony and the Johnsons. The result is a bittersweet, beautiful and seemingly deeply personal record which feels timeless, whilst also being nostalgic – her sound feels like it has found an old home.
Sliver of Ice, the bands new record, is a deeply personal reflection on the last conversation Anohni had with Lou Reed before he died: ‘a carer had placed a shard of ice on his tongue one day and it was such a sweet and unbelievable feeling that it caused him to weep with gratitude.’ These small moments are captured in this single with a simplistic ease:
‘Now that I’m almost gone / Sliver of ice upon my tongue / In the day’s night / It tastes so good, it felt so right / For the first time in my life.’
Her vocals float above the live-feeling electric guitar, her breath sampled above, giving a sense of multiplicity to her vocalisations. Without knowing the context for the song, you could be forgiven for viewing this as a simple, sad love song – but Sliver of Ice is far more than that. There is love here, and sadness too – but the lyrics speak to a peace that Lou found in his last days, and that Anohni seems to be reaching for too. It’s profoundly moving, and incredibly natural, and when it draws you in, you can’t help but feel held by the song’s innate calm, and beauty, and sorrow.
Sliver of Ice is the second single from ANOHNI and the Johnson’s upcoming album, MY BACK WAS A BRIDGE FOR YOU TO CROSS. The cover art, a soulful portrait of the iconic LGBTQI+ activist Marsha P. Johnson ‘commemorates the restoration of connections and neural pathways between generations, past and future.’ The new record will be released on July 7th on Rough Trade Records & Secretly 1 Canadian.