Low frequency sounds and thunderous bass aren’t always associated with relaxation, but Anna von Hausswolff’s sold out Jazzhouse performance could have been billed that way. From the beginning of opener Berg’s set, the evening was one filled with a resonance humming mildly in the air, lulling the audience into a meditative state (though Berg might have taken it too far by burning patchouli incense on stage).
But it’s not a smooth transition to Anna’s set. She takes the stage with her band in an unassuming way, situated on a platform, sitting behind her organ, far removed from anyone in the audience. This means that when she crouches behind the instrument, we can’t see what she’s doing. And it seems like she’s ducked down for a long while when she finally announces that her sub-bass has blown out, and she’ll be back in about 10 minutes, leaving us with a light drone.
True to her word, it is only 10 minutes, standing in pulsating blue lights that remind you of being in an aquarium. While the glitch has robbed Anna of any bold introduction, the now-repaired sub-bass has the shock value of making your teeth rattle in your head. Despite this, it’s very soothing. Because there is so much emphasis on the lower end, the guitars are a whispery afterthought; the myriad pedals before the two guitarist contribute nothing to noise.
Anna herself can shriek like a banshee, but it blends so easily with the arrangements that, regardless of her pitch, there’s no harshness. And the way that she sways — in big swooping motions with her hair trailing behind her — suggests a different atmosphere and a different music, a playfulness and nonchalance out of step with the avant garde.
Given the technical delay, this is one night when the perfunctory leave-the-stage-to-denote-an-encore could have been skipped. Von Hausswolff returns very quickly for a solo performance of David Bowie’s “Warszawa” before her band rejoins her for the final number. It’s an up-beat, almost pop number, different from the rest of the evening that she closes her set with. It’s past midnight, and there’s an air of fatigue in the room now, but it’s a wise decision to send us off with one last burst of brightness.