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Anna von Hausswolff - The Miraculous CD (album) cover


Anna von Hausswolff


Crossover Prog

4.22 | 29 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Released late in the year (December 13), this wonderful album flew under a lot of people's radars--for a long time. Now, hopefully, the word is out: Anna Von Hausswolff is the real deal!

It's kind of Post Rock prog based in church organ! Accompany this with some very emotional, gut-wrenching vocals and you get . . . something quite miraculous. Many will question: Is this music dark or uplifitng? It is often hard to tell. But it is certainly compelling. And unique. High marks for its unique blending of modalities and sub-genres.

1. "Discovery" (8:45) opening with some really deep, almost fog horn blasts from the bass pedals of a pipe organ, a bouncy, ethereal chord then establishes forward movement in a straight time before light drums and higher octave "flute" and organ play establishes a very catchy melody. Heavy guitar and more percussion join in to spread out the power until things come to a gradual stop at 4:30 for a scratchy-synth pause which is sparsely filled with distant "horn," percussives and industrial "space" sounds. At 5:50 the "noise" fades out as electric guitar establishes a slow, note by note arpeggio melody. Percussion is added by 6:30 and then Anna's reverberated voice enters into the mix. Other voices soon join in a kind of "choral" effect as the music ramps up, getting stronger, fuller, and faster. Awesome! Then it's over! (19/20)

2. "The Hope Of Only Empty Men (3:10) simple, two-chord organ foundation which sounds like a standard 19th Century church song is used for the companion to a vocal which is so heavily treated as to sound like an old woman singing while her voice is rendered scratchy and clipped by the old box radio that we are hearing it from. Unusual and, I think, clever. (8.5/10)

3. "Pomperipossa (2:12) organ, whispy voice reverbed far back into the mix, pulsing away as if in a snowstorm, open this song before Anna enters with a voice trying to tell us some tragic story. Very effected and dramatic. (4.5/5)

4. "Come Wander With Me / Deliverance (10:49) opens with lone pipe organ playing a breathy mid-range, quickly joined by bass pedals. Halting with a sustained full organ chord, Anna's voice enters in a pretty high octave, singing long, sustained notes. It's almost angelic, before turning almost demonic. But then it moves back into a definite angelic range before finishing in a rather temptational mid-range just as some heavy guitar and synth chords and drum beats take over. This plods along heavily until in the middle of the fifth minute everyone seems to go on sustain--sustain organ hold, sustain guitar chord strumming madly away, sustained drum frenzy--until 5:30 when a kind of djenty/metal sequence pounds its way repetitiously, with increasing insistence, until 6:36 when another crash of guitar and chaos is hit and held, morphing up and down, before Anna's commanding voice returns to explain it all to us. At 8:05 she finishes and a pulsing organ chord signals a return to forward motion--drums and bass instruments pounding away with no mercy. Anna picks up singing again, almost screaming, evolving into near- crazed caterwauls until the song's crashing end. (17.5/20)

5. "En Ensam Vandrare (2:55) two organ notes bouncing back and forth are joined by plucked reverb electric guitar and reverberating wood block hits. Spaghetti Western guitar joins in the second minute, reinforcing melody, before the ensemble begins adding chords into the mix (as well as drums). A nice instrumental étude. (5/5)

6. "An Oath (3:01) breathy organ arpeggio opens this one with two chord bass pattern before Anna enters with a deep, sonorous voice--holding her notes long and with only a slightly vibrato in a LISA GERRARD way. Military drumming joins in for the second verse, then two guitars, more organ, bass organ, and the siren swirl of a synth. (8.75/10)

7. "Evocation (3:07) opens with rocket-launch-like treated bass synth with Anna's wordless scream joining in before an organ breaks in to create a minor eyed fabric for drums and voice to join with. Anna's singing here seems almost calm and narrational. A shift in the beginning of the third minute results in a full organ, multi-level single chord held as it gradually increases in decibels until the end. (8.75/10)

8. "The Miraculous (9:59) a single, calm, sustained, almost church-like organ note opens this song while muffled large engine-like noise doubles up beneath--like an industrial heartbeat--until 1:10 when the organ note shifts up a few keys and is joined by another (and then another, and another, etc.) to form an ominous, ascending minor chord. All the while the mysterious industrial heartbeat continues beneath, within. By the three minute mark the "full" chord has been achieved and Anna begins to play with the note at the top of the mountain, slowly creating a near-melody, before finally actually doing so in the fifth minute. At 4:30 Anna's ethereal voice floats in from above-- staying above--where it is joined by treated guitar notes, heavily reverbed spoken words, church bells, and, of course, more deep organ pedal play. In the seventh minute the huge organ chord is eventually deconstructed, just as it was formed, one note at a time, while a few notes are toyed with, taken away and then brought back in differing volumes. Very cool effect! The thrum of the "industrial heartbeat" leaves for a while but then returns at the end of the eighth minute for a bit, but then everything falls away, leaving complete silence, around the 8:40 mark. At 8:57, notes begin re-emerging--almost like an orchestra's pre-performance tuning--before falling away and leaving us in silence again for the final 20 seconds. Powerful and fascinating. (18/20)

9. "Stranger (5:28) opens with the sounds as if an orchestra with all of its instruments, cases, music stands, chairs, etc. as well as the audience are taking down after the end of a concert in a city green. Two chords of strummed acoustic guitar, synthesizer organ, and some simple percussion--all heavily reverbed (as if they were being projected over public address speakers in the same city green) accompany the heavily-reverbed vocal of Ms. Hausswolff (accompanied by her sister in the choruses). Slowly plucked lower strings of an electric guitar solo after the first chorus but then continues throughout the rest of the song. The second verse and chorus are stronger, fuller, with more background vocals and Anna herself ramping up her power. A fairly straightforward--and very catchy, satisfying--indie-folk rock song. (8.75/10)

Total Time 49:26

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music; a refreshing album that encourages one to believe that there is great hope for Prog World as shown by the promise coming from our youth.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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