This Anna von Hausswolff article was written by Nick Palmer, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells
‘The Miraculous’ by Anna von Hausswolff is one hell of a way to be introduced to the genre of traditional-nordic-industrial-prog-alternative. The artists third full-length release continues the shift that 2012’s ‘Ceremony’ began – away from the pretty ballads of debut, ‘Track of Time’, to a harsher Organ and electronic-led sound. ‘The Miraculous’ brings this sound further into the realm of Industrial, and it’s genuinely hard to believe that the first and third albums were created by the same artist.
‘Discovery’ is a hugely promising opener, and neatly splits into two halves. The first half being something that sounds like it could have been the soundtrack to a genre mashup fantasy/Western movie, beginning with dramatic synths and leading into a frenzied marching drumbeat as the instrumentation soars over it. It cuts into an eerie break before introducing a lone Guitar and finally letting loose with Von Hausswolff’s incredible vocals.
It’s a very effective opener, because it demonstrates the two broadly different musical styles that Anna Von Hausswolff utilises throughout the rest of the album, often multiple times within songs. The first being an almost Industrial sound created by the sinister-sounding Organ and distorted Guitar (incidentally, the organ used to create this colossal sound is the Acusticum Pipe Organ, an imposing mass of 9000 pipes, and one of the largest in Europe). The second broad style is dreamier and more ethereal, best represented by the title track. ‘The Miraculous’ is 10 minutes of soft Organ, briefly joined by the artists siren song about halfway through, but despite the length, it doesn’t wear out its welcome.
Von Hausswolff’s voice exists comfortably as a sweet siren, a confident bellow or a blood-curdling shriek. In ‘Come Wander With Me/Deliverance’, she’s an opera singer, wailing over a droning organ, but for the album’s closer, ‘Stranger’, the drama is brought down to a bittersweet serenade. Another highlight is ‘Pomperipossa’, which is probably the album’s peak in terms of gothic – Von Hausswolff wails and shrieks like a spirit sealed within the 9000 pipes.
Few albums are without flaws and ‘The Miraculous’ is no exception. ‘The Hope of Empty Men’ and ‘En ensam vandrere’ drag the album down a little with (thankfully) brief forays into more tedious and boring territory.
‘The Miraculous’, still, is a fitting name. It constantly surprises by throwing in new sounds and styles with every song, which is wonderful, but it also makes it quite difficult to stick into a genre. Anna von Hausswolff is taking her music in bold directions and pulling it off with confidence and majesty. This is not an album to stick on in the background – it may require you to set aside 49 minutes 42 seconds, but it will be absolutely worth your time.
‘The Miraculous’ is out on November 13 via City Slang.