Eric Schackne

REVIEW: Taken By Trees – Other Worlds

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Like waking up from a psychadelic dream to the sound of rain drops lazily dripping into puddles formed overnight, this album starts off whimsically.  Echos, affected clean guitars, slides and bends transition you with the sound of waves crashing into the next track.  Calling to memory some of the sounds Phil Collins tapped into for his solo effort Face Value, Victoria Bergsman’s solo project Taken By Trees expertly uses atmospheric sounds in conjunction with some not-so-cliché island textures.  I feel like I’m lounging under the shade of a palm tree listening to Bergsman provide a soundtrack for our relaxation.

“Dreams” is the first to anchor into a steady reggae-inspired beat.  The airy vocals that have remained constant since the beginning of the record match the simple chorus perfectly (“Baby in your dreams”).  There’s so much going on but it never seems distracting, only fantastically freckled with whistles, bells and reflections.  More unique percussive sounds will ease you into the next track, “In Other Words.”  This track has more of an Americana feel at times without ever losing the undeniable bohemian influence.

As if we’re awaking from another dream, the sounds of birds chirping deliver you into the next track “Not Like Any Other,” which unlike the other tracks has a vaguely sexual feel.  Electronic effects on vocals and percussion keep this track sparse and sexy.  This song is reminicent of electro-infused singer songwriter Lykke Li.

Back on the beach, “Pacific Blue” sets you in the sand.  Establishing the rhythm with some sort of mallet instrument, I almost drift in and out of a dream in the disparate sections of this song.  What’s most facinating to me is the use of such a broad spectrum of instruments(I’m pretty sure I just heard a Bassoon).  An extremely long fade out will bring you to the relaxed energy of “Only You.”  I really appreciate the vocal production, as they have this ambient feel without being washed out; I can actually understand her lyrics for the most part.  Oh, hello steel drums, I was wondering when you were going to make an appearance.

“Large” delivers this carribbean four-on-the-floor beat with some busy percussion that feels fresh for the album.  A string section tags the chorus nicely and contributes to this pleasantly disco track.  We are transitioned out of the dance hall with some bird noises and immediately thrown into a slow island dub feel.  “Indigo Dub” is almost a last-call-at-the-bar interlude, instrumentally setting up another intimate song.  “I Want You” is a plea for Victoria’s love interest to communicate.  An echoed male vocal adds a nice layer to this love song.

You’d expect the next track, “Your Place Or Mine” to be PG13 at least.  This song almost feels like a beautiful drunken stumble out of a club with you’re love interest.  The sounds of rain, thunder and a delicate wake on the shore gradually shake you of  any movement the percussion created.  Without any sense of deliberate electronic produciton, the sounds and textures fade into the closing track, “Dreams (Coconut Cut).”  A Ukelele lays the backbone for the sliding guitar.  Lastly, with an organic rumble, Taken By Trees delivers five seconds of silence at the end of the record, a silence that brings a smile to my face.

I really felt like I went to a completely different world with this record.  While there were heaps of island themes and moods, the ecclectic blend of a vast array of instrumentation kept my brain engaged without ever feeling overloaded.  I appreciate the simplicity of the vocal melodies and lyrics juxtaposed with the heavily layered tracks on Other Worlds.  I would easily recommend anyone to leave this album on repeat for the rest of Summer.

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