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Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly CD (album) cover

ALL THOUGHTS FLY

Anna von Hausswolff

 

Crossover Prog

3.86 | 30 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

lukretio
3 stars If someone had told me that one day I would have purchased and enjoyed an instrumental album of solo pipe organ performances, I would have said they were crazy! And, yet, here I am, writing a review for Anna von Hausswolff's latest solo album, All Thoughts Fly, which is exactly that: seven instrumental songs written and performed by von Hausswolff on the North German Baroque organ of Gothenburg's Írgryte New Church. And, even crazier: I actually liked it!

I have a huge respect for Anna von Hausswolff as an artist. I first came into contact with her music when she released her beautifully melodic and melancholic sophomore album Ceremony in 2012. I fell in love with her magic, spirited vocals and her gothic, experimental compositions combining organ music with post-rock/metal. I continued to follow her art when she released the more angular, dronier, and at the same time proggier albums The Miraculous and Dead Magic in 2015 and 2018. As on Ceremony, also on these records one of the highlights for me was Anna's spellbinding, spine-tingling vocal performance, halfway between Diamanda Galas and Kate Bush. Therefore, when she announced that her new album, All Thoughts Fly, was a purely instrumental organ-based affair I was initially taken aback as I feared that I would miss her voice and the post-rock/metal vibes of her earlier releases. Do not get me wrong: I do miss them, and I hope that in the future she will return to explore sonic territories closer to her earlier albums. Nevertheless, I found myself enjoying All Thoughts Fly way more than I initially thought it was possible (in case you haven't guessed yet, instrumental albums in general are not really my cup of tea).

One surprising aspect of All Thoughts Fly is how varied and diverse its seven compositions are. The album moves between playful, symphonic uptempo tracks like opener "Theatre of Nature", more sombre and majestic pieces like "Dolore di Orsini" and "Outside the Gate", and amorphous, drony soundscapes like "Sacro Bosco" and the title-track. The heterogeneity of its compositions is one of the strengths of the album, as it injects enough variation and unexpected polymorphism to the music to keep things interesting and never boring throughout the record. I am also amazed by the breadth and variety of sounds that Anna can actually extract out of the pipe organ: not only notes but also hisses, wails, whispers, moans and even rhythmic percussion. It is really quite astonishing and underscores the massive job that Anna and producer Filip Leyman did in terms of post-processing the sound and producing the album.

The music is generally very drone-oriented, based on simple motifs and patterns that are repeated with varying intensity and nuance, adding layers upon layers of sound to create strong dynamics. I particularly enjoyed the interplay between the basic motifs that typically appear at the beginning of a song and the gradual build-up of noises and sounds that eventually take over and drench the composition into a wall of sound that brings it to a powerful cathartic climax. This is for example the structure of two of my favorite songs of the album, "Theatre of Nature" and "Dolore di Orsini". Among the drony tracks, the bassy, pulsating pattern of "Sacro Bosco" is particularly remarkable. It transmits a sense of excitement and at the same time fear and deference that captures very well the awe of walking through the Garden of Bomarzo that Anna visited in 2017 and inspired the compositions of this record. Also known as Park of the Monsters, the Sacro Bosco is a 16th-century garden populated by grotesque, deformed sculptures and buildings that are submerged in the natural vegetation. The stunning cover of the album shows one of its most famous sculptures and gives you a good idea of the mystical, dark and awe-inspiring nature of the place. Come to think about it, this is also how I feel about the pipe organ after having listened to this album: awe-struck by its ominous yet magic sound capabilities.

Overall, this was a surprisingly (at least for me) enjoyable album, meditative and immersive, never boring despite the repetitive and drony nature of its compositions. Anna's experimentations with the sonic possibilities of the pipe organ are quite astonishing and eye-opening about this awesome instrument. She is an incredible artist, always creating music that is inventive, moving and ambitious and I remain curious about what her next steps will be.

lukretio | 3/5 |

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