Von Hausswolff focuses solely on pipe organ, conjures sorrow with haunting ‘All Thoughts Fly’

Photo by Gianluca Grasselli

Being a metal site that’s also a pro wrestling site, we reserve the right to change what we’re doing every now and again just because it’s a fun things to do. But mostly because something comes along that doesn’t necessarily fall into the heavy music category but 1. should have some interest among the readership and 2. just deserves to be discussed.

We arrive at that today with “All Thoughts Fly,” the new album from Anna Von Hausswolff, though something that might take you off guard if you’re already a devoted fan of her work. While past records could have fallen into eerie doom rock territory, this one is entirely different as it contains only one element: a Swedish replica of the Arp Schnitger pipe organ that’s located in Germany. Her voice is not present (though it certainly is in spirit with her playing), and the variety of sounds she manages through a single, albeit massive, instrument is utterly flooring. Von Hausswolff says she was inspired by the Gardens of Bomarzo, also known as Sacro Bosco, or “sacred grove,” a park commissioned by Pierre Francisco Orsini in memory of and in great mourning for his late wife Guilia Farnese. The cover of the record contains a depiction of the Orcus mouth in the park, and the music here revels in pain, love, and loss that come through in waves on these seven tracks.

“Theatre of Nature” begins the record like a ghost floating above a dusty old room long abandoned before the organs pump and bleat out a melody line that repeats while the atmosphere rises further into the clouds. Coldness emerges and brings a deep frost while keys pump blood through your head, leaving you buzzing toward “Dolore Di Orsini” and its ominous, yet pastoral tones. The song emerges slowly but steadily as the organs feel like they’re calling out like a bagpipe, scraping into mournful terrain, stunning and leaving you breathless. “Sacro Bosco” arrives in gentle winds as the keys ring out and bring a claustrophobic vibe that could have you clutching the walls. Sounds reverberate and mess with your balance while sounds swelter and mar the senses, buzzing and shaking nearly uncontrollably.

“Persefone” has melodies aching and a sorrowful pall cast upon the room, feeling like a dirge. The air sizzles with emotion as elements gradually amass, drone rains down with great penetration, and everything is sucked out into a cloud. “Entering” begins with what sounds like a film slipping and thrashing off its reel as organs swell the atmosphere with dread, feeling like the sound is coming in from a great fog. That drips thick mist on your face, coating you as you move toward the title track, at 12:23 the longest track by far. The playing flutters and mesmerizes, chiming in your ears and dizzying, numbing with an angelic haze. The tones then switch, signaling an icy haze that drops, building power and strength. The organ’s presence grows larger and larger, seemingly blotting out the sun before exploding, leaving only pieces of itself behind. “Outside the Gate (For Bruna)” closes the album, feeling like a funereal message being sent to planes beyond. The organ mimics strings and then a wooshing that sounds like airplane propellers overhead, rising in volume before settling down and sinking into the earth.

Von Hausswolff’s artistry and compassion always have bled through heavily in her music, and I can’t say I wasn’t a little hesitant approaching “All Thoughts Fly” at first. But it took just a few listens for the music to sink into my bloodstream and her inspiration to become apparent to mind, body, and spirit. This is music that’ll quake you, even if it’s not dishing out decibels, and anyone who opens their mind to what’s lurking here will take a journey straight to the center of the heart that will leave you devastated.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/annavonhausswolff

To buy the album, go here: https://southernlord.com/band/anna-von-hausswolff/

For more on the label, go here: https://southernlord.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.