Review of Antony and the Johnsons' single 'Epilepsy is Dancing'
Winning something as prestigious and let's be honest commercially rewarding as a Mercury Prize - especially on a rumoured "technicality" - would for some lesser talents have signalled both a portentous coup and life-changing career opportunity. For Anthony Hegarty however the success of 2005's I Am A Bird Now has subsequently resembled a millstone rather than a medal; barring a few semi-anonymous turns on other people's records, it was not until his 2008 re-emergence as the clamorous house chanteuse of the Hercules and Love Affair collective that we got to revel again in that voice.
Now centred in a more recognisably austere context - a muted chamber ensemble, lilting clarinet, and unintrusive piano - Epilepsy is Dancing is still all about Hegarty's almost unique pipes as they undulate over typically bohemian words. Typically, amongst the fragments you sense are tints both autobiographical and esoteric; in the opening line the subject is described as "The christ now departing" and later with more than a hint of restrained passion he cries "I cry glitter, is love".
Taken from the rumoured less introspective, but even more artily uncompromising second album The Crying Light, it's a simple, unassuming ballad which will confound the unsuspecting masses who found I Am A Bird Now an unpalatable exercise. There will be no Mercury this time, but you suspect that such issues these days are simply another man's/woman's problem.