Release Date: Jul 9, 2013
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, International
Ceremony, the second record from Anna von Hausswolff, buffets us with a cold, yawning beauty, like a rack of candles inside a dark Viking church, or the glimmers of dawn teasing their way across the tundra. Certainly some of the electric frenzy of black metal stomp through these tunes, which are then flanked to great effect by steadily rising harmonies on pipe organ and synthesizer, conjuring a beautiful suspension of light and dark, heaven and earth. .
With Sigur Rós also releasing their latest album this week, Anna Von Hausswolff’s stark but outstanding second offering Ceremony is a timely reminder that the celebrated Icelanders don’t have it all their own way when it comes to widescreen Nordic atmospherics. Despite possessing a name that evokes images of yodelling nuns running gaily through Alpine valleys, Von Hausswolff actually hails from Gothenburg in Sweden and her music is anything but joyful. Following some strong reviews in her homeland for her arresting debut Singing From The Grave and supporting slots with M Ward and Tindersticks among others, Ceremony is being given a well deserved global release.
Ten patient minutes pass before Anna Von Hausswolff’s voice kicks in on Ceremony, her second album. It’s a charged, fidgety wait, pregnant with mood anticipation and the intimidatory build-up of a church organ drone. But when she arrives, hers is an entrance that won’t fail to throttle your attention.Ceremony can’t be accused of being a joyous record, tracing as it does themes of death and the rituals surrounding it.
Swedish singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Anna von Hausswolff issued her debut full-length Singing from the Grave in 2012. Despite its sobering title, the album was full of melodic, fragile, Gothic ballads. On Ceremony, the term "Gothic" applies even more here than on its predecessor, yet the music has progressed almost immeasurably. Von Hausswolff employed an Annedal church organ as her primary instrument on this date (it's on nine of the 13 songs), though she also plays piano and synth.
It’s good to hear a musician get entirely inside the sound of her instrument — not just to play it, but somehow to embody it. Roughly, that’s what Nicole Mitchell, a Chicagoan improviser relocated to California, has done with “Engraved in the Wind” (Rogue Art), a record of unaccompanied performances on the standard concert flute and alto flute. Most tracks are her own work, though some were written for her — and this record in particular — by the flutists and composers James Newton, Renée Baker, Aaya Samaa and Yung Wha Son.