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2020-10-14

ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF - All Thoughts Fly

- In the Court of the Organ Queen -


With her 2018 masterpiece "Dead Magic" and breathtakingly enormous shows at important festivals like Roadburn 2019 Anna von Hausswolff has rightfully won a lot of new new fans in recent time.

Luckily the Swedish singer and instrumentalist shows no signs of reacting to her growing popularity by sacrificing any part of her artistic integrity in favour of catering to her fans' assumed expectations.
Personally this doesn't surprise me at all, because the nonconformism at the core of her music is one of the most important elements drawing listeners to her in the first place.

But boy, some guys are really pissed now, because despite her voice originating from a higher plane of human existence, she dares to just not sing on her new album!
As if long instrumental passages and fully instrumental tracks weren't already a common occurance on her previous records. And as if she doesn't already have several instrumental releases under her belt, be it as a solo artist (see "Källan Betatype") or as equal part of a band (Bada).

Of course not everyone can always receive the memo, so I get that Anna shutting up might still be surprsing to some people.
Whether I can empathize with experiencing it as a bad surprise, that's a whole different kind of question though.



ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF - All Thoughts Fly
(black/white coloured vinyl) (2020) / All Thoughts Fly (tape(2020)


"All Thoughts Fly" was inspired by the visit of Sacro Bosso, a unique Italian sculpture park full of eerie creatures, ancient gods and strange architecture, which is also shown on the photographs of the album artwork and being referenced in song titles.

The whole album was performed exclusively by von Hausswolff herself on a North German Baroque pipe organ in Örgryte New Church in Gothenburg, Sweden.

So there you have it: It's a pure church organ album.


Pipe organs have been dominating Anna's work for a while now, which is understandable. Once you have mastered to utilize the mightiest, most majestic and naturally droning of all instruments for your art, it's probably very hard to set your sights lower.
And you're also unlikely to get tired of the instrument, when you're discovering new specimen, as pipe organs are surely very distinct personalities, each offering an individual palette of sounds and possibilities to explore.

And explore Anna von Hausswolff does.

The focus of her arrangements has always been way more on the connection of sound and emotion than on flashing virtuosity. "All Thoughts Fly" sees her not only honouring this tradition, but pushing it further than ever before.

Of course the album swells in the sounds you would usually expect from the instrument: With its hole arsenal from menacing thunderous bass chords to joyfully trickling high notes the organ wanders through glorious contemporary classical and post-rockish progressions, taking its time, but confidently telling its visceral story.
Yet as we follow Ofelia to meet the Faun in the Labyrinth for the first time (as a fan of "Pan's Labyrinth" this picture always comes up for me), the organ is also used in stranger, rather atypical ways, with skillfully sound-designed textures, yet also as we hear just the pipes breathing or some mechanical elements rhythmically crackling.

"All Thoughts Fly" is a magical journey. And other than on "Källan Betatype", which I would probably like even better with some vocals, I don't miss Anna's voice one bit here. In the same way I also don't miss her band, because all that would only disract from the purity of this work.

It's an album which invites you to let yourself fall into its atmosphere, but also allows you to carefully concentrate on its sonic delicacies.

While it doesn't nearly demand the same patience (only the title tracks teases it with a painfully long phase of anticipation before the all the more overwhelming climax), the place to which Anna von Hausswolff takes me here reminds me a lot of Eyvind Kang's "Ajaeng Ajaeng", which also goes into substantial spiritual depths while meditating over its instruments' timbres.

Southern Lord has released this intense look inside the beautiful belly of the organ on wonderful coloured vinyl (also available on standard black and CD):



Ok. Didn't I just claim in another post that I'm usually not a big fan of buying the same album in several versions?

Well, here's another exception from the rule. Since I slightly prefer the not so obvious choice of cover artwork on the cassette release on Ash International, I had initially set my eyes on this variant. But the presale for vinyl started earlier and you'll never know when it's too late with those limited releases, right?


So short story even shorter: Now I have both, record and tape - and I really don't feel like parting from one of them, as they are both precious in their own way.

And the music is eternally bewitching in its magnitude anyway.






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