Anohni’s ‘Hopelessness’ was easily one of last year’s most talked about and critically acclaimed albums, and now just a few months on she re-emerges with this six song EP ‘Paradise’, intended to act as a companion piece to that collection. Comprised over six songs left over from the initial sessions for ‘Hopelessness’ (several of them previously performed live) with collaborators Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke, this EP fits perfectly thematically with the explicit political and activist themes being explored on ‘Hopelessness’, and indeed Anohni describes it herself as “seeking to support activist conversations and disrupt assumptions about popular music through the collision of electronic sound and highly politicized lyrics.”
Sonically, it also picks up pretty much from directly where that larger collection left off, with Anohni’s spectacular, often digitally manipulated vocals colliding with lush and intense bursts of synthetic texture and rhythms. Opening track ‘In My Dreams’ sets the scene somewhat ominously at first as delicate ambient tones and what sounds like the rumbling rush of wind gradually give way to almost church-like organs and swelling synth-strings, and Anohni’s multilayered and delayed vocal harmonies begin to rise into focus, blurring through wordless, phased layers before suddenly snapping into crystal clarity right at the end. By contrast, title track ‘Paradise’ offers up one of this EP’s most extroverted moments, as vast EDM-influenced walls of buzzing synths and squealing effects build against snapping trap rhythms, Anohni’s soul-driven lead vocal taking on almost heroic proportions as it soars through delay high above the writhing bass-driven electronics.
‘Jesus Will Kill You’ meanwhile shifts gears entirely, Anohni’s pitched down gospel soul vocal calling to mind the ghosts of long departed Southern Delta bluesmen as vast clattering drum breaks crash against brittle, glittering synths and swelling organs, but in many senses its the spoken word recording of what sounds like an older Australian indigenous woman responding that her people will deal with a world changing for the worse by simply working together to make it a better place, hidden right at the end of the closing track, that arguably offers up this EP’s most singularly powerful commentary. An excellent companion collection that’s more than simply an adjunct to Anohni’s ‘Hopelessness’, with several of the tracks here arguably bettering that album.