Iris Bergcrantz, Different Universe (Vanguard Music Boulevard)
In an impressive display of her talent as a singer and songwriter, the daughter of prominent Swedish musicians Anders Bergcrantz and Anna-Lena Laurin debuts as a leader, with her parents as members of the band. Iris Bergcrantz’s voice is notable for its sweep from low chest tones to the top of the soprano range and for her flexibility in applying it in a milieu that embraces jazz and aspects of the most adventurous contemporary classical music.
What makes her universe different from that of many emerging young jazz singers is the incorporation of electronic effects. In some tracks, production alterations transform her voice, her father’s formidable trumpet and the keyboard excursions of her mother. Through overdubbing, Ms. Bergcrantz at some points becomes an ethereal choir. In the opening track, “If You Fail, I’ll Always Stay,” the lyric is by her sister Rebecca, who joins Iris to sing harmony. Guest drummer Victor Lewis inflects the proceeding with his customary energy and forthrightness. Stefan Bellinas plays bass on the piece. In the rest of the album Anders Fjelstad is the bassist and Johan Kolsut the drummer.
The audio manipulation In “They Say” makes Anders Bergcrantz’s trumpet into a growling commentator before he and his daughter engage in a passage of comparatively delicate counterpoint. Ms. Laurin’s synthesizer and Fender-Rhodes electric piano occasionally swell into orchestral surges, but in the next moment she may revert to the concert grand piano, and the maelstrom of sound gives way to peaceful resolution. Despite its clarity, Ms. Bergcrantz’s voice now and then seems in danger of submerging in the tidal power of its surroundings. This is a stimulating and in many ways daring album, but it would be good to sometime hear her in a less voluminous context.
In a refreshing reminder of the era before the recording industry’s compulsion to fill albums to their full 80-minute CD capacity, the total time of Different Universe is :35:19. After hearing music of this intensity, time to reflect is welcome.
The album’s promotional video allows you to see the musicians. To view it, click here.