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Viking's Choice: Anna Von Hausswolff, 'Come Wander With Me/Deliverance'

Anna Von Hausswolff.
Anna Von Hausswolff.

When you record on one of Scandinavia's largest pipe organs, the result damn well better be a thing of monstrous beauty and bombast. Anna von Hausswolff took her band and longtime producer Filip Leyman to the concert hall Acusticum in Piteå, Sweden, to work on her third album, The Miraculous. If the first single, "Come Wander With Me/Deliverance," is any indication, be prepared to meet thy blown-out, organ doom.

After three minutes of the organist rooting inside those massive pipes to drone a folk melody, von Hausswolff's band gallops through a terrain of the sublimely heavy. A riff indebted to Black Sabbath gives way to a rhythmic-pounding ritual worthy of Swans, before a righteous drone battle between the organ and guitarists Joel Fabiansson and Karl Vento underpins words of a dangerous and desperate love: "He came from the sunset / He came from the sea / He came from shadows, and can love only me."

If this all sounds epic in scope, von Hausswolff's inspiration for The Miraculous comes from a book called Källan by Swedish author Walter Ljungquist. She wrote to NPR that it gave her a name for the space between mystery and doubt.

It's about kids on a spiritual journey, their search for something holy, the disappointment of not finding it, the joy of searching, and the importance of letting go of control.

I read this book when I was out touring with Efterklang in 2013 and it made a major impact on me. It made me think of the most fascinating place I know. I started to ask myself, "Why am I so fascinated by this place and why do I keep going back to it?" When I was a kid my family told me tons of stories about this place. Scary things and fantastic things, both truth and lies. There was, and still is, this weird fusion between reality and fantasy there. Every time I go to there my mind gets really creative and starts to add new stories and images to the old ones. It's a place of mystery and doubt. It's highly attractive and very scary at the same time. If I were to search for a miracle, just like the kids in the book, this is the place I would start looking; The Miraculous is my name for that place.

Von Hausswolff says that "Come Wander With Me/Deliverance" was developed over a series of live performances and that "every time we played it, it grew bigger and bigger."

The lyrics and the feeling of the song seduced me into this mystical yet romantic landscape. It deals with the idealisation of a world that you yearn to know, and the fear and frustration that one might never be able to fully exploit that place due to physical and emotional limitations. It's about longing and dreaming, while facing the reality of obligations and doubt.

The Miraculous comes out Nov. 13 on Other Music in the U.S., City Slang for U.K. and Europe, and Anna von Hausswolff's own label Pomperipossa in Scandinavia.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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