Anna Von Hausswolff live at Stockholm Music & Art, 01/08/15
Video by Valerie Toumayan
Anna von Hausswolff may be the most original and compelling solo artist working in the Western world today.
I do not understand why the whole freaking world isn’t ranting and raving about Anna von Hausswolff; she may be the most original and compelling solo artist working in the Western world today. Start by imagining Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins singing songs at God’s funeral.
Aside from her startling, Fiona Apple-in-Mordor voice, the key instrument on The Miraculous (von Hausswolff’s fourth album) is a gigantic Swedish pipe organ called the Acusticum. The Acusticum sounds like an entire Orc army unto itself, and it’s a startling foundation for this vastly original LP. The remaining instrumental textures, generally painted in dark metal palettes, slide, sigh, slur, scream and churn over, under and around the Acusticum; it’s almost as if von Hausswolff uses dark metal the way ’60s West Coast pop producers used string sections, and I’ve never heard anything quite like it. It makes for a very striking and original dark fairyland, like Hildegard von Bingen joining Celtic Frost and preparing for Ragnarök.
Hausswolff’s vocals are flexible and acrobatic, altering their inflection and character to suit the musical and textual needs of the piece. Employing enormous discretion, she uses her vastly impressive singing sparingly; in many ways this album is driven by its long instrumental passages (a technique Hausswolff explored on her last full-length record, 2012’s excellent but far less death metal-ish Ceremony).
The Miraculous is deep, dark, stunning, engaging, and so fresh that it almost defies description. An invocation, a prayer, an exhortation to light, darkness, death, life and rebirth, you are hearing an artist inventing her own fiercely original vocabulary. The mood (though not the tempo) invokes death metal’s wintery, hooded wraiths, but Kate Bush and her weirdly gothic pliés also hover over the proceedings. The Miraculous is a vastly original triumph, and I think we’re witnessing the emergence of one of the most important artists of the decade.‘The Miraculous’ is a vastly original triumph—I think we’re witnessing the emergence of one of the most important artists of the decade.