Album Review: Taken By Trees – Other Worlds

Before its release, Taken by Trees’ new album Other Worlds was dubbed an “impressionist poem for the Hawaiian Islands.” Rarely does an album so aptly live up to its descriptors, but that is precisely what Victoria Bergsman has created. This musically and lyrically conceptual work of art represents yet another outstanding album from the former Concretes frontwoman.
Instrumentally lush, the album sways gently between heavy pedal steel, reverb-laden, twangy guitar, floating-on-air-vocals, and dub beats. The album’s aural palette is so evocative that it almost feels multi-sensory. As if not only music, but also ocean waves, temperate winds, and tan sands gush forth from the speakers. The sea washes over you gently. Leaves rustle in a warm breeze. Your toes sink into the earth as granules wedge between your toes.
After the quirky, pedal-steel wah-wahs and reverbed clicks of opener “Horizon” take us over that line of sight and into another world, “Highest High” ushers in soft rain and creaking wood with is easy, rolling rhythm. The perfectly gentle transition from one song into the next is one of the album’s constant features.
Tracks three and four offer the strongest one-two punch in the form of “Dreams” and “In Other Words.” The former, “Dreams,” is a perfect pop song but feels fresh—innately brand new—and possesses a musically rich constancy with the overarching motifs of the album. “Baby in your dreams,” croons Bergsman as electronic drums pulse, surfy guitar twangs, and a shimmering effect ripples through the mix. “Dreams” is the stuff that mix CD’s are built on, if you, like me, haven’t totally eschewed that tradition. “In Other Words” follows, landing somewhere between Tropicalia and R&B—do I need to explain how wonderful that is? Bergsman finds herself completely in the groove of the album here.
Other Worlds drifts by in a haze of beauty, offering new facets with each track, such as the reggae rhythm and guitar of “Large” or the tom-and-steel-drum-focused “Pacific Blue.” The album’s songs keep the listener hovering just on the verge of blissful slumber, lulling enough to induce relaxation, but with enough juice to keep one hooked.
Other Worlds’ cohesive nature and thematic unity present a forward-thinking brilliance that proves simultaneously soothing and addictive. It may well be the finest work we have seen from an already incredibly accomplished musician.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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