Antony and the Johnson, Cut the World (Rough Trade)

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The Independent Culture

Timed to coincide with this year's Meltdown Festival, curated by Antony Hegarty, Cut the World – a live album recorded with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra – serves as a fine introduction to Antony and the Johnsons' wider catalogue for anyone who didn't investigate beyond the Mercury-winning I Am a Bird Now.

"My heart is a record of dangerous scenes," he sings on the title track (and opener), setting the stage for the recurring twin themes of his oeuvre, namely a poignant pleasure in abusive relationships and a desire for deliverance to an elusive promised land.

The orchestra's work is subtle and supportive rather than flashy, allowing free rein to that astonishing voice, that peculiar way of ending each line as though he is eating his own words, savouring them.

Fans of a sceptical nature will cringe throughout "Future Feminism", a rambling seven-minute monologue which hits a few nails on the head but misses far more, concluding that "unless we move into feminine systems of governance we don't stand a chance".

But when he follows it by moving into a song as delicious as "Cripple and the Starfish", the whole world will cut him some slack.