Mountains Crave: futuristic and industrial sounds give way to glittering beauty
The brooding sound of an organ echoing in cavernous cathedral vaults creates an ominous bass line which rumbles constantly beneath Anna von Hausswolff’s new album Ceremony.
Epic and sepulchral, the Swedish singer/composer’s aural landscape is pierced by futuristic, industrial sounds that suggest a tumultuous clash between life and death, and between the ancient and the present. So far, so Nico. ABBA, this certainly isn’t.
But time and again, just when you’re on the verge of being sucked into an abyss of existential bleakness, von Hausswolff chucks a curved ball of glittering beauty that sends you rushing skywards. The arpeggios that announce the “Epitaph of Daniel” come tumbling out of the darkness like spinning hoops of light, for example.
As the tracks unfold, from the opening instrumental “Epitaph of Theodor”, through the anthemic rock references of “Deathbed”, to the soaring glory of “Red Sun” and the scintillating clarity of “Liturgy of Light” and “Harmonica”, reminders of the grave are constant.
But von Hausswolff is an intrepid musical explorer, unraveling her own perceptions of mortality – not least in the penultimate track, devastatingly entitled “Funeral For My Future Children” – and the possibilities of rebirth. Her music erupts from the elemental clashes generated by her questions. “Mountains Crave” is a throbbing testament to the might of nature.
With its absorbing, intricate melodies, Ceremony is often overwhelming in its intensity. It rises above the listener like a vast granite rock face. Tracing the threads of gold that run through it demands commitment, but there are plenty of rewards to be discovered in these musical and poetic meditations if you’re prepared to surrender to such a visceral listening experience.