Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Taken By Trees - East of Eden (LP, Rough Trade)

Taken by Trees is the name adopted by Victoria Bergsman, former vocalist of the Concretes and guest vocalist on "Young Folks" from Peter, Bjorn and John's third album, Writer's Block.

Her new recordings found Bergsman abandoning the Concretes' sprightly sound in lieu of a more sombre, stripped-down style that put her in league with Camera Obscura. Taken by Trees' first full-length, Open Field, was released in 2007.

For the next Taken by Trees' album, Bergsman wanted to try something different so she and recording engineer, Andreas Söderström, traveled to Pakistan to record with local musicians. This, apparently, was quite an eventful journey, with Bergsman literally being carried off by some locals shortly after the duo arrived in Pakistan; the fact that she was an unmarried woman evidently made her common property. Söderström saved her by posing as her husband, and thus disguised, Söderström and Bergsman went on to team up with a Pakistani musician named Malik to record this album.

The album kicks off with the haunting flute of "To Lose Someone" before Bergsman's melancholy vocals start. The rhythmic percussion and flute continue to dominate the song and the backing vocals are Pakistani, a theme that continues throughout the album. A version of Animal Collective's "My Girls" - changed to "My Boys" – is set to a stately, dipping rhythm of xylophone and percussion. Noah Lennox repays the favour by adding backing vocals to "Anna".

East of Eden is an ambitious project, and Bergsman manages to pull it off admirably, although some parts of the album are a trifle self-indulgent ("Wapas Karna", "Bekännelse"). Even though she's borrowed a lot here - from Animal Collective, Pakistani music - Bergsman manages to make it her own.

Initial vinyl pressings come with the album on CD and an accompanying documentary.

No comments: