Taken By Trees // Other Worlds // October 2 // Secretly Canadian
So I was sitting in front of my laptop screen, it being the only thing illuminating the room, thinking to myself. Where have I heard the name Victoria Bergsman before. Then it hit me and I felt stupid. She’s the one responsible for arguably the most memorable whistling melody in modern pop music. You know, that one. But enough about it as I’m sure every review ever focuses on this too much. Bergsman has her own solo career under the name Taken By Trees and her third album Other Worlds is less memorable but nevertheless mesmerizing.
Newcomers won’t be surprised that Taken By Trees is folk music but here we enter the world of stereotypes. Everyone seems to think that folk is cold music, music to listen while being rained on in some forest while giving a bear hug to a bear. A rare strain of artists take the sound from mid-west to the middle east where it doesn’t really come across as folk anymore. Other Worlds sees Bergsman take her sound in a completely different direction by recording an album that sounds like it’s oozing Hawaii and little blue Pacific lagunas out of the speakers. It’s a record filled with peace, ocean sounds and dub influences but the way it moves makes it unquestionably a folk record. Other Worlds is down with the nature, it just uses influences that very few folk albums do. It might throw the listener away as just like that Memoryhouse album from way back, it sounds like it just woke up after a long winter slumber but unlike The Slideshow Effect which woke up to find a cold and rainy March, Other Worlds wakes up in a beach house (no pun intended) with some randoms waving palm leaves at it. Chill.
What truly sets Other Worlds apart is its dub influence. At times this sounds like a less ambient, more organic version of that impressive Peaking Lights record from few months ago. Taken By Trees is cozy in this world and as such Other Worlds is a very slow moving record. This makes the dub influence work as it creates the lucid dreaming effect that is only interrupted by occasional marimbas and, not going to lie, ridiculous Hawaiian lap steel guitars. The Hawaiian influence upon the album is undeniable but the record is the best when it doesn’t reveal itself fully. The sounds of crashing waves makes this any imaginary island and Bergsman’s voice is a piece of beauty itself. Her previous albums have been really busy sounding but Other Worlds take her to another world in her own mind where there’s no trouble, just sunshine. As a result of this it feels like Other Worlds is the best when it creates atmosphere that doesn’t try to overpower the surroundings. The middle section of the record features songs that are so soft and mellow that they pretty much sum of the peace of mind even if they aren’t great songs in their own right. The later parts of the record on the other hand features moments that are more instant and disrupt the flow. Large in particular is a track that feels like a fire alarm, coming across as too loud despite being one of the more memorable tracks on here. Other Worlds doesn’t deal in great stand alone songs, it deals in great overall atmosphere.
Other Worlds is certainly beautiful and original to an extent. It’s not an easy album to digest though. It requires the listener to be in the right mindset, preferably chill out mode. Other Worlds is hard to comprehend for those who have trouble of focusing on music as it doesn’t grab attention, it requires it. For those who, like Bergsman have discovered their inner peace, Other Worlds is a piece of warmth whether it’s being playing in summer or winter. In the end, you know, whistling the same old tune for over 5 years is all fun but a new album of forward looking tropical dubby folk is even better.