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Baker's Dozen

Monumental Simplicity: Anna Von Hausswolff's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , December 8th, 2015 09:51

The Swedish musician talks to John Freeman about the 13 records that "opened doors" and helped create the blueprint for the mighty organ drone of her new album, The Miraculous, before she plays two UK shows

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Philip Glass - Koyaanisqatsi: Original Soundtrack Album From The Film
I am pretending that I know exactly how to say "Koyaanisqatsi" - but I don't. This is the original soundtrack from a documentary film by Godfrey Reggio. There is so much information about Philip Glass - let me check the notes I made.

I am very impressed that you have made notes.

Really? I thought you would be disappointed. This is important and somehow even more important than talking about my own album. If I mess up the information about my own music, then it is on me, but if I mess up on information about other people's music then that is really bad.

I would say Philip Glass, Erik Satie and Chopin - and maybe now, lately, Bo Hansson - are the most important composers for me when it comes to my own piano playing. With Glass, I listened to this album long before I knew I was going to start playing the pipe organ and make a record using the pipe organ. So, maybe it was Philip Glass and Koyaanisqatsi that subconsciously introduced that idea to me.

I remember hearing this soundtrack when I was in high school, but it didn't make a huge impression on me, as it did in 2008 when I was on a train on the way to Hamar in Norway to do a show. I had Koyaanisqatsi in my headphones and the combination of nature together with this dramatic music was very strong. It made the perfect soundtrack to the epic nature of Norway.

I had heard the music first and then I saw the documentary, which consists only of images. There is no language. I find that very affecting as you can create your own meaning in the images through the music. The film is exploring the relationship between humans, nature and technology. I think that is why the music is so important to the film, in that it makes it more than just political, it becomes spiritual and helps you connect emotionally with the concepts and images of the film. There is a beautiful sadness, anger and stress that comes through as emotions, as opposed to a strictly political message.

I have listened a lot to Glass' other organ works. I think the album is called Glass Organ Works. His minimalistic and repetitious way of structuring notes are great for the pipe organ and I have been very inspired by his way of playing and his way of approaching the sound.

I like music that grabs your attention and makes you feel disorientated at the same time. I like to be constantly surprised and to not know what is coming next. Even though the structures may be quite loose and a composition may not be structured in a traditional way, the music manages to keep your interest. A lot of the music on this list works like that for me. Even though I have listened to the whole record, I need to listen to it again to understand it better. I want to feel that I can lose myself in a record one more time.

Are you describing your own music?

Yes, maybe, but sometimes I do like pop music. After all, there is the Chris Isaak album on the list. He is the man.


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