Anna Von Hausswolff mesmerizes with the gloomy and poignant pipe organ album All Thoughts Fly
When I heard about the possibility of reviewing an album that was exclusively recorded on a pipe organ in Germany, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m a Getz. I grew up in a home where organ was deeply appreciated. My dad used to play the organ, and I can remember many car rides with him as a kid where he’d put on his Bach CD and crank it up as if we were listening to a rock anthem. This is the same dude that introduced me to R.E.M., so I think he has some clout.
This album was recorded in full on the pipe organ in the Orgryte New Church in Gothenburg, Sweden. There is just something intruiging and mysterious about that part of the world that always seems to manifest in particularly striking ways in music. The second track on this album, titled “Dolore Di Osini” captures that mood well. While the album opener “Thoughts of Nature” has a repeating sentimental theme, its the second track that creates the mood that sealed the deal for me as far as putting a review together. The tone is notably darker.
“Sacro Bosco,” the third track, leans into drone music territory, stretching the traditional paradigms of what the organ can do. To the lay appreciator who seldom heard an organ without a church program with the word “prelude” and “postlude” in it, this ambient journey is pleasant in an odd way. Those that know me know that the Fall is my favorite musical time of year. This is the case for many reasons, but one of them is that around Halloween I become drawn to music that’s a little creepy and unsettling. I mean, just look at the music video. There is beauty in how barren, still, wide open these images are, and how the music reflects it—an anti-liminal space, if you will.
“Persefone” is less unsettling, and more of a just a crescendoing melancholy. If you’re not familiar with the Greek myth where Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, is captured by Hades, you should read it. It gives some context to this—a tale of love and loss, where a particularly striking goddess is forcibly betrothed to death himself. The long, drawn out note at the end of the song is soft yet piercing, like a soft wail of grief.
The title track, “All Thoughts Fly” is the longest on the album, but its the most fitting for my mood right now. I’m sitting outside working on this review, and the sun just came out. The temperature is perfect! Though my mind seemingly won’t quiet down, I feel like I’m being wrapped by a light blanket of sunshine and pipe organ, the arrangements fluttering around me. The composition climaxes in a way that seems to be heralding something new. I’ve wondered what new thing 2020 is heralding all year, and the album closer “Outside the Gate (For Bruna)” seems to be agreeing with quiet anticipation. If the climax of “All Thoughts Fly” was the announcement of a new era, this song echoes all the aspects of the waiting period.