Reviews

Anna von Hausswolff
Dead Magic

(City Slang)

9/10

Nose-diving into the world of Anna Von Hausswolff can be disorientating at the best of times. Taking the title of Gothenburg’s gloomiest composer on one track, she can suddenly transform into (open brackets) “alternative” music’s sweetest soprano on the next. She is punk rock’s favourite Debussy alongside being folk-metal’s answer to Chopin, and the truest indication – if ever there was one – that you don’t know as much about musical tropes as you thought you did.

Dwarfing 2015’s ‘The Miraculous’ with her fourth collection, ‘Dead Magic’ sees the Acusticum Pipe Organ swapped out for a 20th Century organ at Copenhagen’s Marmorkirken (The Marble Church), one of Scandinavia’s biggest religious sites. Located on a balcony within the domed roof, the resulting sound is engulfing, architecting a spherical reverberation that recalls celebration as much as pain, rejuvenation as much as passing, meticulously produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Wolves in the Throne Room).

‘The Truth, The Glow, The Fall’ – a 12-minute radio-unfriendly epic – expands into huge sonic spaces, experimenting in the in-betweens of folklore and biblical beginnings, while ‘Ugly and Vengeful’ heralds her most impressive composition (at times sounding like a droning intonation, at others a woozy and discordant carousel). ‘The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra’ drums to an anarchic beat, where soaring vocals cackle down to hysteria, before organ-only ‘The Marble Eye’ is completely suffused in its own acoustics.

Of the five tracks, ‘Källans Återuppståndelse’ is the most surprising, standing out as a beautiful vocal track, set against a minimalist organ part. As she started the record on the fall, she has ended it on the resurrection, with a plea for someone to confront their own creativity.

‘Dead Magic’ is as much a thematic record as it is a colour-me-in book, or a dot-the-dots where the numbers have been left out… and so have the dots. Anna Von Hausswolff has fashioned a truly immersive beast, where folklore runs free and where open fissures are as common as wild flowers growing. But you are invited in, and with such goodwill that to criticise the album is simply to criticise your place within it.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.