Anna von Hausswolff – The Miraculous
While Sweden is one of the happiest nations in the world, the Swedes have their dark side too. Those long, cold winter nights, brutal Norse myths and harsh black metal – it’s not all Abba up there. 28-year-old singer, songwriter and keyboardist Anna von Hausswolff duly taps into this darker side of Scandinavia with her gothic odes to death and the elements. To record her third album, The Miraculous, von Hausswolff used the giant Acusticum pipe organ, housed in the northern town of Piteå, and the instrument’s 9,000 pipes provide the bedrock to every song here.
The opening “Discovery” begins with a mighty four-minute instrumental introduction, reminiscent of King Crimson, or Air at their most progressive, before von Hausswolff’s keening, echoing voice sings of “the earth, the sun, the rust, the dust” over tribal drums and growling guitar. Much of The Miraculous is subtler, however, with the Nico-esque “The Hope Only Of Empty Men” utilising organ pipes submerged in water to create chattering, bubbling notes, and “An Oath” suggesting a haunted Beach House in its liquid melodies.
The key tracks here are the two ten-minute epics; “Come Wander With Me/Deliverance” moves from freeform organ drones into a menacing, Black Sabbath-like crawl, and then a careening instrumental jam, while the title track itself takes ambient drones into unsettling places a little like Tangerine Dream’s chilly Zeit.
The Miraculous is a stunning listen, with the power of the gargantuan organ and von Hausswolff’s equally impressive voice almost overwhelming. With winter closing in, this is a perfect record to soundtrack those long, dark nights of the soul.