Review: Anna Von Hausswolff ‘Live At Montreux Jazz Festival’

To most, Anna Von Hausswolff is a name, that if mentioned, is met with a blank stare. To those in the know, Anna is an understated artistic genius, who’s work is as bold as it is introverted. Maybe you were reading in the press recently about an artist being refused to play shows in France, on the grounds of religious beliefs? Well, even in the twenty-first century, this still happens.

Anna Von Hausswolff ‘Live At Montreux Jazz Festival’

Imagine being an artist, and wanting to show your art, only to be stifled by misguided, and by a somewhat ignorant sector of society. Thankfully, the situation got resolved, and a great many French fans got to witness Anna Von Hauswolff’s art in its full majesty live.

Well, for those of us still to catch AVH live, thankfully, there is some hope of just what we could expect, and that now is possible by the emergence of this absolutely phenomenal live recording of Anna’s performance at the 2018 Montreux Jazz Festival. Through the course of the six tracks, we are fully submerged into AVH’s world, and what an incredible voyage it is indeed.

With tracks lifted from Anna’s third album, Dead Magic, and fourth, The Miraculous, we’re exposed and left forever changed, by this absolutely spellbinding performance. I could go on for a good couple of hours about the whole experience, but I will condense it down and hope that you will go out, and research Anna Von Hausswolff, as she truly is one of a kind.

Right from the opening seconds of The Truth The Glow The Fall, you know something special is coming, you can feel it in the air, and on the wind. This isn’t just a series of songs, something for casual listening while you’re doing the housework. This is an experience. It’s an experience for your very soul. After the opening bars roll in, the anticipation to hear Anna is overwhelming, and when she finally breaks into song, it’s absolutely hypnotising. The vocal is ethereal, everything we’ve come to expect from Anna, it’s heavenly and pained, yet soft.

As the opening track plays through, it’s warming. The intensity of my soul, drowning in its majesty, literally sends shivers down my spine. When it breaks down, I close my eyes, and I’m carried away. Each note echoes around my entire body, and I feel as if I’m there at that very moment. It’s sublime, simply sublime.

Pomperipossa brings forth the other side of Anna, and complete with banshee wails, it shows the sheer intensity and angst which she captures like no other artist. It’s hard, haunting, and divine. Track three is my benchmark moment as this is the track which initially introduced me to Anna Von Hausswolff. At this point, I strongly urge you, no I implore you, that if you don’t know it already, that you search out the track The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra.

It’s enchanting and embracing, and this nightmarish powerhouse sets my insides on fire…

As it enters, lurching through the landscape like a wounded animal, its foreboding presence fills me with joy, and it’s as every bit intoxicating live as it is on the studio recording. Anna’s anguish is drawn out for all to see, and it’s as powerful as it is otherworldly. It’s enchanting and embracing, and this nightmarish powerhouse sets my insides on fire.

Ugly And Vengeful follows, and through the twenty minutes of its existence, there is no way to really prepare for what’s coming. After the incredibly sombre beginning, the silence is broken by Anna’s somewhat chanted passage. With slow pained rasps of the guitar, Anna works her magic, and when it again drops into silence, she makes the most of the incredible acoustics, to usher forth her solitary vocal monologue. It’s truly breathtaking.

Tentatively, the accompanying musicians pick up from the quagmire and it’s electric. It’s timeless and weightless, yet somehow soulfully heavy. The pure angst is enough to drown you alone. By the final third, it’s captivating and by its climax it’s thunderous.

By the time Come Wander With Me Deliverance blows in on the breeze to finish proceedings, I can think of nowhere else I would rather be on the whole planet. As Anna starts to sing, it is enchanting. It rolls through me, and I’m left with a feeling of complete euphoria. As the second third enters, the darkness descends, and a lurching bass-driven theme rolls in, somewhat heavier, and as slow as it is menacing.

It ebbs and flows to its finale, torn between powerhouse passages, and crushingly ambient segments, and the true majesty of Anna Von Hausswolff’s scope is shown in all its glory. It’s completely overwhelming, it’s beyond music, and into the realms of somewhere else entirely. By the time it dies off and ends, I am overcome with thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

For me, a deeper connection is everything, and in Anna Von Hausswolff, and her work, that connection is painfully visceral. It defies boundaries, and words cannot come close to the experience of feeling like her work is etched into my very bones.

Truly a work of art, to see is to believe, literally…

Label: Southern Lord | Pomperipossa Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish