Anna von Hausswolff – Live at Montreux Jazz Festival – album review

Anna von Hausswolff – Live at Montreux Jazz Festival

Southern Lord

LP – CD – DL

Out Now

Anna von Hausswolff recently released a recording from the Montreux Jazz Festival of her performance in 2018. It’s a visceral, almost pagan and very emotional recording. Fighting Boredom have been listening, read what we thought below.

Anna has spoken about how this performance came about “In the beginning of 2013 I was texting back and forth with my friend Albin Oskarsson. He wanted me to come and play at a jazz festival that he was living nearby, it was Montreux Jazz Festival. At that point I was still quite unknown outside Sweden and regardless of my friend’s many attempts to contact the festival they never returned to him with an offer. I gave up the idea, he did not. Later that same year he unexpectedly died and a few years later, in 2017, an email popped up in my inbox, it was a request to open for Nick Cave and the bad seeds at the Montreux jazz festival. The tragedy that Albin was still not around to share the excitement with me gave me sorrow.But, through the magic of music comfort came. The show was an emotional turmoil of ecstasy and grief, shared with an incredible audience and atmosphere. And, eventually, I could see his face in the venue, floating above all others, smiling and waving towards me. I’m so happy to have been given this moment and I’m beyond grateful to Montreux Jazz Festival, John Harris and Mathieu Jaton who so beautifully recorded this special concert that I will keep close to my heart forever and ever.”

This performance features Anna as a support act. Let that sink in, because after listening to this record over and over I can’t for the life of me see anything following this. Even the dark prince Nick Cave would surely have struggled. Seriously, this recording leaves you emotionally drained at the end.

This is primal, it’s the fight or flight reflex that runs through the dark hedgerows and valleys of the countryside. It’s the tree burning as lightning strikes, it’s the ever moving almost unstoppable flow of a glacier through rock. The music is orchestral, fluid and empowering. To be honest the instrumentation alone would be worth the price of a CD. But the voice makes it magnificent. Anna’s singing goes from a beautiful instrument to the sound of a sacrifice under the moon. It’s alive, it’s just there and you can’t get away. 

It breaks you, lulls you into a false sense of security then unleashes itself on you to take your blood pressure up and  away and freeze your veins. Like an animal caught in a predators gaze you are trapped until the performance finishes and then you want more. She laughs at one point and then sings, sounding like a warrior, some sort of natural pagan filled with magic. Not necessarily good magic, more something to run from very quickly. This record is a document of an artist giving everything to a performance. It’s wonderful. Listen to it.

Anna von Hausswolff is on Facebook, she has a Bandcamp page and Tweets as @avonhausswolff

All words by Adrian Bloxham.

Adrian Bloxham

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