Miraculous is what swedish singer/songwriter Anna Von Hausswolff calls a place her family used to tell her about when she was small. The mysterious place has had a complicated history. It is home to Swedish traditional folk music and the landscape is beautiful but it was also the scene of an uprising in her country that led to much bloodshed. Hausswolff keeps the location secret but does visit from time to time. It is possible that the place only exists in her mind. The music on The Miraculous is inspired by the magic, mystery and terror of this place. The Miraculous is the third album by Anna Von Hausswolff and follows her highly acclaimed Ceremony album from 2013 and her harrowingly brilliant debut, Singing From The Grave from 2010.
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- The Miraculous by Anna von Hausswolff
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Well, one thing’s for sure: Anna Von Hausswolff should have been in Interstellar. I think we can all agree Matthew McConaughey is not the dude you want to travel through fifth-dimensional space with, making Hausswolff his ideal replacement: she makes rock opera sound like a matter for the galaxy, she’s all about transcendence, and she loves the organ, making her and Hans Zimmer a very good collaborative fit. Christopher Nolan: you really fucked up not hiring Hausswolff.
This is my roundabout way of communicating the grandiosity and supremely epic vibes of ‘The Miraculous’, a goth pantomime that’s twenty percent Swans repetition, thirty Goblin prog, fifteen John Carpenter spook and thirty five percent original evil. It’s a record so full of post-rock’s purpose and metal’s vigour that I want to send my review to Clint with every word in bold font. The fraught march of “Discovery” only leads to a monolithic drone and a second ascending climax, drums shaking back into action like a monster rising from the remnants of a ruptured town. By the time Huasswolff’s grand voice comes in to detail a few pulverising mantras, you might feel like you’ve lived through a whole trilogy.
What’s amazing about ‘The Miraculous’ isn’t so much its ambitious amalgamation of sound -- from organs, an instrument no one really wants to concentrate on for a full hour, to raw takes of sharp, metallic percussion -- but the way it kneads together melody. “The hope only of empty men” is predicated on a noxious and nauseous climax, but Hausswolff opens it up to the listener with a vocal melody that feels emotive among the high stakes. “Pomperipossa” sees her caught between rumblings of cymbals and overloud organ, making piercing screams sound catchy as fuck.
Hausswolff’s use of organ as her central motif makes her record sound simultaneously claustrophobic and expansive -- it’s like we’ve been locked into a grand, empty church for an hour. Ultimately, that’s where the record wins me: it distances itself just the right amount, busying itself with melodic conflicts while also stalling from afar, such as on grandiose sing-song drones like “Come wander with me”, whose proggy breakdown comes after a long, stilling vocal performance from Hausswolff. The song’s cathartic outro feels crucial to our being able to breathe. I don’t know what I'm saying anymore except this record rules and I offer it my allegiance.
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