Taken By Trees
Sep 28, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
The best albums have an identifiable feel. They're records acting as cohesive statements, strung together by some unquantifiable mood.
Such is the case with the newest effort from Taken By Trees, Other Worlds. Trees is the solo project of Victoria Bergsman, the Swedish singer most famous for being "the girl voice" in Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" (as well as for being the former vocalist for The Concretes). But Taken By Trees' second album, East of Eden, gained Bergsman some solo fame. That wonderful record merged delicate love songs with Pakistani-infused instrumentation and percussion—which made sense, since Bergsman recorded the album during a lengthy trip to Pakistan.
Other Worlds is similarly place-inflected, this time using a visit to Hawaii to set the overall tone. Don't worry: Bergsman hasn't over- indulged in ukulele and steel guitar. Instead, Bergsman uses the idea of Hawaii—palm trees, sepia-tinted photos of beach sunsets, the gentle rhythms of the ocean—to provide a pervading mood of calm.
It helps that Bergsman's coo is never overpowering. She flits in and out of the languid beats, looped synths, and quiet guitars. "Dreams" and "In Other Words" drift by like unmoored canoes bobbing in a peaceful ocean, the slightly reverbed guitars providing a perfect complement to the feel of the music. Even when Bergsman uses "island music" flourishes, it only serves to help the mood. "Pacific Blue" features steel drum that works perfectly with the Vampire Weekend-like pop guitar, and the reggae and marimba dub of "I Want You" manage to heighten the already blissed-out feel of the album.
Instrumental track "Dreams (Coconut Cut)" is the perfect end to Other Worlds—it recalls the tranquility of a beach at night. In real life, as on Other Worlds, the only remaining sounds are the roar of the surf, the suggestion of rain, and a contented peace that somehow Victoria Bergsman has managed to capture. (www.takenbytreesofficial.tumblr.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10