Other Worlds is the third studio album from the intriguingly named Taken by Trees, the moniker adopted by ex-Concretes lead vocalist Victoria Bergsman for her solo work. After recording her last album in Pakistan with a cast of local musicians, the Swedish-born chanteuse is back thumbing her copy of Lonely Planet, drawing her latest inspiration from a trip to Hawaii. This time she mingles hazy synths, pedal steel, and homely dub beats with the natural sounds of ethnic percussion, warm rain, thunder, and birds to create a thoroughly blissed-out mood.
Each track is very carefully rendered to reflect the atmosphere of a tropical island. Listening becomes a highly sensual experience as the combination of sounds regularly evokes lush island imagery and vivid colors. While there is a seamless texture in how the songs are presented, naturally some stand out. The bell-like guitar that punctuates “Dreams” elevates it from being a simple, conventional love song. The song is gently reprised at the end of the record as a lazy steel ‘n’ slide guitar instrumental dubbed “Coconut Cut”. “Pacific Blue” begins with a soft, echo-drenched vocal that sacrifices diction for effect and soon progresses into a rambling, yet fully absorbing, instrumental.
Bergsman’s otherworldly vocals rarely rise above the complex instrumental and percussive mix that populates these songs. Yet you sense she has not only found paradise but the emotional contentment that goes with it. This comes through most successfully on the celebratory paen to her lover, “In Other Words”. While lyrically Bergsman may not win any literary prizes, the singularity of her approach on this record tends to lull you into a dreamlike state that masks any shortcomings. You listen and let the pulsing waves of sound wash over you, now and then aroused by a deft snatch of melody or a gentle, uplifting effect. It’s an altogether beautiful experience, if not a game-changing one, and clearly one to adopt a comfortably horizontal position to as you reach for the Hawaiian Tropic.
Essential Tracks: “In Other Words”, “Dreams”