|Anna von Hausswolff — The Miraculous (November 13th, 2015)|
Anna von Hausswolff — The Miraculous (November 13th, 2015)♠ Anna Von Hausswolff har skapat ett mästerverk
♠ ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF HAS CREATED A MASTERPIECE
♠ Swedish singer/songwriter whose work ranges from interior piano–based narratives to boldly arranged, near–Gothic compositions.
♠ When Anna von Hausswolff was young, her parents used to tell her stories about a place the family loved to visit. The location is seeped in a complicated history: a home, for example, to Sweden’s traditional folk music, it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty, but once provided the backdrop for a momentous uprising against the country’s king during which thousands of peasants were slaughtered, leaving its landscapes bathed in blood. The tales in which von Hausswolff lost herself — some true, some less so — were on occasions charming, at other times horrifying, but they always lingered long after bedtime. It became, to her, a place of mystery, magic and terror, and, though she won’t say where it is, she still returns repeatedly, if sometimes only in her imagination. She calls the place miraculous.
Born: September 6, 1986 in Gothenburg, Sweden
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Album release: November 13th, 2015
Record Label: City Slang / Other Music
1 Discovery 8:45
2 The Hope Only of Empty Men 3:11
3 Pomperipossa 2:13
4 Come Wander with Me / Deliverance 10:49
5 En Ensam Vandrare 2:55
6 An Oath 3:02
7 Evocation 3:08
8 The Miraculous 9:59
9 Stranger 5:28
℗ 2015 Other Music Recording Co.
♣ 4/5 MOJO — 8/10 UNCUT — 8/10 SONIC
♣ 4/5 DN — 5/6 GAFFA — 4/5 BUZZReview
by Luke Slater November 12th, 2015; Score: 8
♣ Where could Anna von Hausswolff possibly go after Ceremony? That album, released in 2012 was the first big step that she took as a recording artist, rendering what came before almost an irrelevance. As is the case with many flourishing and developing artists it was with her second album that she took the leap to The Next Level. Ceremony was an incredible work, based around a church organ which created a spacious, vast and awe–inspiring backing to tracks laden with doom, and slow but massive changes in tone.
♣ For her next album, The Miraculous, the Swede did not shun the organ, which has come to characterise her sound, but embraced it. Or rather, she moved from an Annedal organ in a church to the Acusticum pipe organ, situated in a concert hall in the northern Swedish town of Piteå. Upscaling, I think they call it. It has 9,000 pipes, some of which are allegedly part–submerged in water. It is a beautiful thing to look, before you have even pressed a key.♣ With the weight of such an enormous musical presence on her fingers, it might have been easy to let the Acusticum organ simply become the album and give in to its power. But it has ended up as only a part of the machine. Opener ‘Discovery’ begins with a deep organ blast and has parallels with ‘Epitaph of Theodor’ in its initial minutes. It then shifts to a wild three–minute crescendo of vocals, drums and guitar of rock opera proportions. It, like a few other passages, are where a rockier side is embraced.
♣ The best art, whether theatre, cinema, literature can create a world of its own that you are able to temporarily inhabit. It is a difficult task to be able to achieve that with a whole album and probably an exaggeration to say that The Miraculous manages it. But there are pockets where it happens; where time seems to slow down, where combinations of sounds become feelings and you forget yourself. Then ten–minute instrumental title–track is such an example; the organ is used to its full potential to create an ever–shifting droning landscape which moves from doom–laden to celestial to outright discomforting.
♣ Not only did Von Hausswolff upscale her organ, she has done similar with her voice. It is not the case that it was completely restrained on previous recordings, but its full extent was rarely unleashed. No such thing happens on The Miraculous. There is clearly little interest in skirting with the borders. Go hard or go home. And my, has she gone hard this time. The peak of her vocal range comes with ‘Come Wander With Me/Deliverance’. Here the occasionally–covered (British Sea Power) Twilight Zone song begins steadily and funereally before the track’s second half peaks with an all battle between lung–busting yet controlled wails and overdriven guitars. You shudder to think what this might sound like in the flesh.
♣ Aside from the final track, ‘Strangers’, the ten parts of the album come in two sizes: huge or small. Tracks one, four and eight last between 8’46” and 10’50”, the remainder are between two and three minutes. Changes are important throughout: in tone, timbre, texture, pace and mood. They happen both quickly and slowly, within and outside of the individual tracks. The longer ones are where the grandness of scale and sound in general reaches its maximum. Yet every track has its place and its merit. ‘En Ensam Vandere’ is predominantly smooth, spacious with occasional lurches in rhythm as it reaches its conclusion. ‘Evocation’ labours very deliberately — both instrumentally and vocally — before giving way to a range of organ drones and distant shrieks. But the standout pieces are the lengthier ones. Perhaps, if you are already aware of her work on Ceremony, then The Miraculous will not be a surprise to you. But if you have not, then it may well be a complete revelation. ♣ http://drownedinsound.com/AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ****
♣ With The Miraculous, Swedish singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Anna von Hausswolff has delivered an album as different from 2013’s celebrated Ceremony as that was from 2010's Singing From The Grave. On Ceremony, Hausswolff discovered the sonic possibilities of the cathedral organ. Her four–octave vocal range rose above compositions that wove classically tinged Gothic art pop and skeletal post–rock that touched on Sweden’s gloomy operatic and folk traditions. Sometimes gentle and dreamy, and just as often moody and droning (sometimes inside the same tune), she has created an iconoclastic brand of indie music. On The Miraculous, Hausswolff doubles down on the organ. The instrument she’s using here is an enormous 9,000–pipe Acusticum Organ designed by Gerard Woehl. Its vast tonal and instrumental possibilities include sounds for glockenspiel, vibraphone, celeste, percussion, and indefinable high–pitched shrieking sounds that extend the upper reaches of the Western harmonic system (these pipes are partially submerged in water). Vocally, Hausswolff moves effortlessly through her range, but she also employs guttural throat and body sounds, as well as skittering, glossolalic vocalizations (à la Diamanda Galas and Jarboe). For her, the voice becomes an integral instrument in her sound. The relatively brief, almost funereal ‘The Hope of Only Empty Men’ has a rhythm created from the organ’s swirling pulse accentuated by a kick drum and whispering cymbals with industrial noise spinning above. Her monotone singing offers an emotionally devastating lyric, but the restrained melody remains unaffected because her voice barely rises above the sonics. In contrast, ‘Pomperipossa’ is a short, melodic, tender Gothic love song that reveals the enduring influence of Kate Bush. ‘Come Wander with Me’ is stunning. © Photo credit: Burak Cingi / Anna Von Hausswolff — Hoxton Bar and Grill, London 15/10/2013 |Over nearly 11 minutes, the music moves through droned–out Gothic blues (think Desertshore–era Nico), crushing doom metal, early King Crimson–esque prog–industrial noise rock, Swedish folk, and something approaching Byzantine chant. Its nerve–cracking guitars, bashing processional drums, layered percussion, and waves of feedback are all fueled by her earth–quaking organ. Hausswolff’s voice is equally extreme. It shifts wildly between alto and soprano, delivering an apocalyptic lyric when words don’t suffice. This is excess–laden extreme music at its grandiose best. The ten–minute title number couldn't be more different: It begins on a brooding, sub–baritone organ drone; it very gradually lightens in color and timbre with gentle dissonances and timbral shifts. When she begins signing — four minutes in — treated backing vocals shade her own tender, passionate, multi–tracked performance. The cut’s mood is altered from balladic to liturgical, from duskily ethereal to brightly lit, and the effect is transformative. Closer ‘The Stranger’ is a cinematic folk–rock song; it’s like a tune in a spaghetti western soundtrack produced by Lee Hazlewood with glockenspiel, harp, and cymbalom sounds crisscrossed with guitars and subdued percussion. As a composer, singer, and sound sculptor, Hausswolff is in full control on The Miraculous, balancing harshness and intimacy, heaviness and airy melancholy. It's an uncompromising view, but it's also welcoming. ♣ http://www.allmusic.com/
|Anna von Hausswolff — The Miraculous (November 13th, 2015)|