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Anna von Hausswolff - Ceremony CD (album) cover

CEREMONY

Anna von Hausswolff

 

Crossover Prog

4.05 | 31 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars An early album by this future master of gothic psycho-spiritual expression. Here she was in her 27th year but, methinks, only still learning how to navigate through collaborative "band" formats and studio album recording techniques in a leadership capacity.

1. "Epitaph Of Theodor" (5:25) a little too simplistic for its first half. Then as guitar and other instruments are added it starts to come to life. (8.5/10)

2. "Deathbed" (8:38) brilliant organ work precedes a vocal that Grace Slick would be proud of. Great tune. A portent of things to come (as she continues to grow in confidence). Uplifting final minute (perhaps reflective of Anna's philosophy of death?). A tip three song for me. (18/20)

3. "Mountains Crave" (3:35) bouncy organ chords with syncopated claps and Anna singing about her wonderment of the possible conscious perspectives of mountains. How do we know? I like the way Anna's mind works but the musical structure is a bit too simplistic, not even minimalistic--like early Dead Can Dance. (8/10)

4. "Goodbye" (6:16) the pipe organ music here is so beautiful, so nuanced, that, in my opinion, it would have been enough to just isolate it as an instrumental. The engineering "placement" and effects chosen for her singing voice are, in my opinion, a poor match for the pipe organ--at least until the very end where it gets all garbled (intentionally) and sinks into the organ weave. More like this ending, please! (8.75/10)

5. "Red Sun" (3:17) now here is a song that is fully built around the vocal--and perfectly so. This is a sign of Anna mastering her craft--mastering her gifts--learning how to package them into a harmonious whole. Another top three song. (9/10)

6. "Epitaph Of Daniel" (3:10) gentle minor organ arpeggi chords support dreamy, floating "Hawaiian" guitar. The inclusion of snare drums is genius. (9/10)

7. "No Body" (2:33) very cool droning low notes and industrial effects. This definitely conveys the possibility of spiritual life as heavy and thick. Again, I love the way this artist thinks! (4.5/5)

8. "Lithurgy Of Light" (5:01) floating soundscape of multiple finger-picked arpeggiating guitars beneath Anna's rather bluesy vocal. Nice. Anna showing that she can definitely crossover into other musical styles and subgenres-- this one American torch song. Nice harmony vocal from Maria (sister? mother?) von Hausswolff. (8.5/10)

9. "Harmonica" (4:22) hand-on-body percussion supports finger play with what sounds like an old, dismembered and untuned piano or zither-like instrument. In the second minute strummed guitar and Anna and Maria's haunting voices take over. Lap-held clay drums join in with the second verse. This sounds totally like a traditional folk song. Pretty. (8.75/10)

10. "Ocean" (5:44) multiple piano tracks sounding Brian Eno/Harold Budd-like (like wind chimes blowing on the porch) with horn-like sound of a hunting horn making wolf-like sounds in the background. I get the title's reference, but this feels so much more about the sounds one might hear from a rustic coastal cabin--until Anna (and Maria) enter with their singing voices. There is, again, a feel of a kind of Americana folk tradition going on here--like the Old Time music represented in the Coen Brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou? or by the Blind Boys from Alabama. (8.75/10)

11. "Sova" (3:24) pipe organ and effected percussives open this before Anna's celestial voice adds accents and operatic flourishes---playing on the title word. Beautiful! What a voice! Again, I am reminded of early Dead Can Dance here. Nice "raw" guitar sound used in the instrumental final minute. A top three song for me. (9/10)

12. "Funeral For My Future Children" (4:42) starting with a more Celtic hand- and bass-drum percussion track, pipe organ and incidental guitar strums and picking join in to support Anna's dirging singing. Once again, her song and performance conjure up old (even ancient) musical traditions. ( la DEAD CAN DANCE.) Great percussion performance. (8.75/10)

13. "Sun Rise" (4:52) more floating guitar and synth play to create another very soothing, dreamy soundscape. Anna and Maria come in singing in a melody and style that fully imitates that of Elizabeth Fraser's famous cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren" (in the guise of the 4 A.D. record label's This Mortal Coil configuration). Well met! (8.75/10)

Total Time 60:59

B/four stars; and excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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