2020. A year that has seen an immense amount unrest and unease, with a vast array of moments both wild and shocking. However, this is not a forum to discuss the ills of society. It is a space to engage a larger audience to the wild, weird, and wonderful, as there is still so much artistic good being beset upon the world. Out of that creative aether, Anna von Hausswolff has emerged with a solo effort that dives headlong into the powerful, and provocative, soundscapes of the pipe organ.
Over the past decade Hausswolff has established herself as a brilliant, multifaceted artist, composer, and collaborator. Although she has a diverse palette of sonic output, the common threads of neoclassical and experimental tendencies are at the core of her work. On All Thoughts Fly these threads take the helm, weaving together an exquisite tapestry of sonic wizardry.
The album is centred around the track ‘Sacro Bosco’, inspired by a garden in Italy that is steeped in varying facets of history. Listening to the tracks in succession is almost a wondrous, ethereal, and imaginative temporal journey. Bearing in mind the sonic heart of the album, the opening track ‘Theatre Of Nature’ elicits a scene that is on par with impassioned vision of entering Paradise that Dante Alighieri put forth in his poetic magnum opus, La Divina Comedia. The journey culminates with the epic eponymous track as the ethereal sonic landscape that pours forth from the organ sends the mind into a beautiful imaginative whirlwind. Hausswolf then deposits the listener outside the gates of Elysian splendour with grace and care as the organ drifts away.
All Thoughts Fly is a tour de force of spectacular musical skill and finesse. Hausswolff’s mastery of an instrument we so often relegate to music of yesteryear is bold, beautiful, and spellbinding. The carefully planned, yet simple, recording techniques utilized to capture the magnificence of the Gothenburg organ is outstanding. In the scope of her oeuvre Hausswolff already deserves discussion amongst the upper echelon of avant-garde greats such as Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Diamanda Galás, and Laurie Anderson. The attention to all sonic details the Swedish artist exhibits on All Thoughts Fly firmly cements that notion.
[Yes, I know this is up a little late after release, but the album is so good that my mistake shouldn’t stop you from appreciating it – Ed.]
All Thoughts Fly is out now via Southern Lord and can be purchased here.
Words: Garrett A. Tanner