Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly Music Album Reviews

Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly Music Album Reviews
The Swedish composer sidelines the gothic pop of previous releases in favor of lush and sorrowful wordless soundscapes, performed entirely on the pipe organ of a local church.

In the 16th century, the Italian arts patron Pier Francesco Orsini commissioned a statuary park in the town of Bomarzo as he was mourning the death of his wife. Sacro Bosco, dedicated in her memory, features a collection of stone monsters, including the Roman underworld god Orcus, his eyes wide and mouth open in terror. The park’s haunting beauty captivated the Swedish musician Anna von Hausswolff, whose fifth album, All Thoughts Fly, is titled after an inscription on the Orcus statue’s mouth. Unlike her song-based previous albums, All Thoughts Fly is instrumental, performed entirely on pipe organ. Its lush soundscapes find transcendence in the eerie and the sorrowful, much like Sacro Bosco itself. 
The pipe organ has been an important element in von Hausswolff’s gothic pop across four previous albums, which sometimes sounded like the fantasy all-star band Kate Bush and the Bad Seeds. “The Marble Eye,” a lone solo organ piece from 2018’s Dead Magic, now sounds like a test run for All Thoughts Fly, which surrounds the listener with the organ’s funereal tone. Von Hausswolff recorded it in a church in her Gothenburg hometown, on a painstaking replica of a baroque-era instrument. Her dissonant drones, flurrying melodies, and uncanny, almost electronic-sounding effects guide listeners on a bleak ambient journey through an abandoned castle at dusk. 

Von Hausswolff uses the organ’s full expressive range, exploring new sides of the instrument on each song without ever disrupting All Thoughts Fly’s essential solemnity. “Persefone,” a simple dirge, sounds like Stars of the Lid performing at a funeral procession. The title track allows some light to come in, using repeated overlapping rhythmic figures to create a dreamlike land akin to Terry Riley’s minimalist classic A Rainbow in Curved Air. When it finally ends, 12-plus minutes in, it feels like coming out on the other side of a crying fit: pure release.

On “Sacro Bosco,” von Hausswolff recreates Orsini’s garden with her instrument. High notes wail of impending doom, while a low growl seems to signify Orcus’ voice, outlasting the song’s ornate textures just as the statue has endured through centuries. It’s the heaviest moment on an undeniably heavy album—one that that fits right in with the metal-oriented catalog of Southern Lord Records, despite little resemblance to labelmates like Power Trip and Sleep. 

The voiceless hymns of All Thoughts Fly don’t leave you longing for the singing of von Hausswolff’s previous albums. No turn of phrase could match the tension she creates with the call-and-response buildup of “Theatre of Nature,” as her melodies converse heatedly with each other. She allows the organ to sing for itself: songs of love and loss, decay and eternal life.
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Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly Music Album Reviews Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, October 05, 2020 Rating:

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