Lisa Morgenstern - Showreel
It’s the voice, pure and pristine, that gets you first, wordlessly piercing a soft cloud of tremulous synths at the start of ‘Atlas’, the opening track on Lisa Morgenstern’s outstanding Chameleon. Soon, it’s swooping and soaring, increasingly impassioned yet perfectly poised, singing of desperation and deliverance, loss and salvation, and tracing a melody of spine-tingling grace and wonder. Its essence lingers long after the song’s over, too: hers is a voice which provokes a response as physical as sentimental. Chameleon, which combines these consummate talents across its nine tracks, is consequently one of the most astonishing, assured albums you’ll hear all year.
Morgenstern was raised the daughter of two orchestral musicians, their respective roots – Bulgarian and German – colouring her horizons as much as their occupation. As a child, she grew up with Stravinsky’s Rites Of Spring as a bedtime lullaby. Indeed, though she began piano lessons at the age of five, performing competitively from a young age, ballet was her first true love – its elegance is still reflected today in the music she writes – and she spent much of her teens training to become a professional, only to be thwarted in her dream by a recurrent injury. She returned instead to music, the shadow of other parental preferences – to this day she warms up during soundchecks with songs by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and Nina Simone – slowly enhanced by a growing love for punk, rock, metal and even Goth, all tempered by her affinity for choral works. (She’s also a crucial force behind Berlin’s leading Bulgarian Women’s Choir.)
Few of these are obviously evident on CHAMELEON, named for the manner in which she constantly recalibrates her aesthetic approach, though they all played a small part in helping shape it. The latter features Sebastian Plano on cello, and the Argentinian – currently signed to Mercury KX – was also responsible for co-producing the album. They first met while MORGENSTERN was working in a Hanover recording studio, and crossed paths again by chance after both moved to Berlin, where Plano immediately volunteered to work with her.
Wherever she has performed, though, Morgenstern has won over her audience with Chameleon’s bewitching character.