I’ll admit, I was unaware of Anna von Hausswolff until very recently- but had been seeing mentions of this album in some of the various haunts I frequent. What struck me was the variation in comparisons- I had seen her compared to Kate Bush, Swans, John Carpenter, Goblin, Hans Zimmer, Earth and the mention of “drone” in there too. WHAT???? Surely some of these descriptions miss the mark, right? This seems like an impossible combination of sounds to get right (or not be a complete mess at least), right????
How very wrong I was. To my astonishment, all of those descriptions FIT THE FUCKING BILL PERFECTLY. I sat there head resting in hands utterly comprehending what I was listening to. My expectations had been kicked out of the park. Off the planet, right into space. What was this black magic??? And why hadn’t I discovered her earlier?
Even the story behind the recording is amazing- for the sake of this album, Hausswolff made the journey to the city of Piteå, where waiting was the Acusticum Pipe Organ. This bad boy is equipped with over 9000 pipes, its own recording tools and percussion instruments. Some parts of the organ are partly submerged in water, giving it an unearthly, unique tone and it certainly shows through the tracks here. Coupled with her backing band, the sounds created on this album are truly special, and I’ve never heard anything quite like it.
It opens with the amazing, transcendental epic “Discovery“, aptly named if I say so. My heart was racing as it built up, from its sole organ hits to its amazing, drone backed percussion which pummeled right into the chest. “Come Wander With Me/Deliverance” has a brutal, repetitive guitar riff that could have easily come out of latter era Earth or Swans, yet never feels like it’s a rip off. Constantly we are reminded that this is Anna’s album. I have never heard vocals suit droning guitars so well, she completely, in every sense of the term, WAILS her way through the songs ending. Hell, it’s downright metal, and it’s completely amazing.
The rest of the album focuses a lot on experimentation with the Acusticum and it’s quite compelling to listen to. “Evocation” is loud and heavy, and the title track (a sprawling, dark 10 minute epic) sounds like it could come from any huge science fiction film, with the organ full and center sounding absolutely grandiose. It ends with the more hopeful sounding “Stranger“, offering a final moment of relief from the weight that has been pushed down on the listener for the first 8 tracks.
And ultimately the key, the most impressive element for me, is that regardless of how ‘huge‘ the music gets, it never forgets it’s organ led spine, it’s always there to support the hefty weight of everything around it. And that people, is what makes it one of the most original pieces of music, no, art, that you will come across all year. It left me blown away and haunted by it. Needless to say, I have ordered it’s 2LP set and will be letting myself get utterly consumed by it. After that I will proceed to check out her earlier works, if they are anywhere near as good as this, I’m about to get VERY excited.
9/10– Transcendental, crushing, heavy, brave. Get hold of it, change your life.