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Anna von Hausswolff – Live at Montreux Jazz Festival Review

The Banshee and The Purge: Live

Sounds like…

Purging your demons: Live.

The review

Recorded in 2018, Anna von Hausswolff’s ensemble performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival is a wild one. It is a great entrance point for anyone wanting to get into Anna’s music as the live performance gives it a cinematic and dare I say more melodic edge at times. It also feels like a banshee seance at the same time and offers giant insight into conjuring dark ambience and noise rock.

Anna von Hausswolff
Anna von Hausswolff

Borrowing heavily from her albums “Dead Magic” and “The Miraculous”, the hour set breaks you in gently with rich pipe organ-based rock. “The Truth The Glow The Fall” is symphonic rock that showcases Anna does indeed work with beautiful hypnotic melodies and not just drones. It also allows Anna’s voice to weave a rich and expanses set of emotions. One moment she’ll be brooding like a faun ala Wendy Rule – purring her words. In the next sentence, she’ll be boom screaming like Kate Bush on a bouncy castle. Yet it all sounds and feels natural and earned before she veers towards a more possessed garble and growl. Whether it is going down this route or the more ceremonial macabre “Ugly and Vengeful” – a 19-minute dirge that feels like an album in a song – Anna is utterly captivating.

Part of the pull is down to Anna von Hauswolff’s ability to shapeshift from powerful siren to demonic demon via elegant Lisa Gerrard-esque holiness. Often it’ll take place in the space of a few lines too. You are never sure what emotional pull you’ll be dragged into next and it’s superb to go along for the ride. The second element is that even when the band is holding onto a single note or chord for extraordinary lengths of time – nothing sits still. Guitars cry out in anguish, drums and cymbals roll and rumble along as they transition from soaring to plummeting. The music sounds cursed and blessed simultaneously and that is a wonderful thing to feel and sit with.

Anna von Hausswolff’s performance is stunning and full of emotion. It absolutely won’t be for everyone (i.e. casual listeners) but this is Anna at some of her most cinematic. The songs are slightly reworked in a way to make a grandstand chaotic rock show and I applaud the ebb and flow of the set. If you want to get started with a live musical purge – this is a great place to come.

Recommended track: The Truth The Glow The Fall

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Anna von Hausswolff - Live at Montreux Jazz Festival



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