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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


Nils Frahm - Spaces
I became familiar with Nils Frahm through the label Kning Disk, who released my Singing From The Grave and Ceremony records. Kning Disk's Mattias Nilsson had released The Bells by Nils. That is a very minimalistic classical piano record. When I heard his music for the first time, I fell in love instantly. I had just finished high school, where I had studied classical piano. The classical music world can be really restrained and pretentious. You are supposed to play in a certain way and it is not supposed to be too simple. Simplicity is not anything that you should strive to achieve - or at least that was my impression when I had studied classical music at school.

So, it was a relief to hear The Bells by Nils Frahm. He had a background in classical music but he still allowed himself to play these simple patterns over and over again. He would let the music breath and have a lot of space between each note. At the time, that was very inspiring to hear for me. I then followed him and heard Spaces, which was released in 2013. I heard it when I was touring and was surprised by how much he had progressed, in going from those really simple songs to these huge, grand compositions with a lot of electronic beats. He has took his own way of writing classical music and has combined it with electronics in a very organic way. It felt very new and very special.

I think there are some field recordings and some live recordings on the album. It's interesting, because all of the songs fit beautifully together. What I am extremely impressed by is his way of making everything sound so organic, even though he is processing sounds through lots of effects pedals or is playing synthesisers on a programmed arpeggio song. That is rare for people who are working with electronics, in the way that he does.

I was his support act for a show in Amsterdam and we have kept in contact by email. He told me a while ago that he built a 'touring organ'. I was very jealous. I wonder if he treasures his touring organ. I need to steal his touring organ. I then saw him play a show in Paris with his touring organ and he played songs from Spaces, but then he played many new songs on the organ. The new songs were even better. Therefore, his next album may knock Spaces out of this list.

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