On her new album All Thoughts Fly, Swedish artist Anna von Hausswolff captures a stirring musical look at pools of deeply psychologically resonant turmoil at the core of emotional stillness.
Emotional stillness carries extra weight in the strikingly immersive listening experience of this new album, which is available now via Southern Lord. Hausswolff turns a somber musical procession into an especially vast and expansive mental journey, in which there’s an opportunity to feel moments of struggle, tension, and release that underlie rawer emotional bursts.
The dynamic variations across the record tell wordless stories of discovery, with comparatively brighter moments interwoven into the shimmering musical fog of the presentation.
The only instrument that makes an appearance on the album is a pipe organ — specifically, the pipe organ at the Örgryte New Church in Gothenburg, Sweden. That particular instrument is modeled after the work of the 17th Century German organ-builder Arp Schnitger, and it is the largest currently active organ in the world that is tuned according to the quarter-comma meantone temperament, which was commonly used around the time of Schnitger’s original work.
Anna von Hausswolff took inspiration for All Thoughts Fly from the Sacro Bosco, which is a 16th Century park full of contorted and startling sculptures in the Italian administrative district of Lazio, which is where Rome is also situated. (An image of one of the sculptures at the Sacro Bosco appears on the cover art of All Thoughts Fly.)
In this wake, Hausswolff’s new record carries a definitely heavy emotional weight. The track “Persefone,” for instance, features a steady, somber train of melody that feels mournful, like some kind of palatial funeral dirge. The track feels like it would fit in some kind of grandiose cathedral ceremony, and removed from that context as it is, the song still carries a similar psychological experience, as if listening constitutes stepping into a place of solemn mourning that somehow stretches across centuries of human existence.
Via an array of dynamics, All Thoughts Fly delivers haunting anthems of some kind of fleeting and almost lost emotional world.
“Sacro Bosco” builds from pulses of shimmering melody into a grounded yet dramatic crescendo that turns towards a vibe that feels similar to watching morning sunlight pour through a stately stained glass window. Although it eventually softens out, the opening track, “Theatre of Nature,” features some strikingly propulsive rhythms, introducing an enlivening forward-facing perspective in the mix right from the very first moments. Across the record, there’s a consistent sense of build — “Dolore di Orsini,” for instance, grows from somberness into more drama.
The emotional range within All Thoughts Fly feels quite remarkable considering the fact that there’s only one instrument on the record. The rich and consistently lush tones of the performance feel like they’re presenting spots of breakthrough pulled from churning emotional turmoil.
An image of the exact instrument that Anna von Hausswolff used for the record is available online — check it out below: