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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Taken by Trees
Open Field
Rough Trade

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 18, 2007
Taken by Trees is more than just an excellent name, it is the name of the new solo project of Victoria Bergsman, the eleven-year singer and writer for oppositely named Swedish mainstays The Concretes. Not ringing a bell? Then think back to last year, swaying to some club DJ or pre-concert PA music. More than likely, the ubiquitous and infectious "Young Folks," from Peter Bjorn and John's Writer's Block, wafted over the airwaves. After being hooked by whistling, you were reeled in by the soothing alto of Bergsman's perfectly pitched voice. If no such gripping experience happened, you may have been staying in too much - use your imagination, or your iPod, to play along.

Having propped up Peter Bjorn and John's dance floor tent, now Bergsman's vocal folds are being put to even greater use on Taken by Trees' debut, Open Field. This brief collection of songwriter pearls is a study in sparseness. Though the album has an exhaustive list of backing musicians and vocalists, no single song sounds greater than the sum of its core parts - Bergsman's delicate delivery of words, over meticulous arrangements. In the opening "Tell Me," the song's warm ambience is set by the first lines, "Tell me when the snow has gone its way/ Tell me when it's time for me to play."

"The Legend" is a gorgeous piece of chamber pop, with utmost care given to strings and percussion, not to mention the vocal phrasing of something as simple as "the daylight." With this exacting attention to details, it's no surprise that Open Field was produced by Bergsman herself, ably abetted (and graciously thanked) by a Peter and John-less Bjorn Yttling. The John (Eriksson) also returns Victoria's vocal favor by guesting on drums and percussion throughout the record. What goes around comes around, at least in Swedish music circles.

The instrumental interlude "Open Field" is the first of two tracks that borrow thematic melodies and arrangements from traditional Japanese folk music; the imagery in the flute refrain is enough to spark thoughts of surreal swordfights in the snow (thanks, Tarantino). The other tune, "Cedar Trees," employs softly hammered wooden Marimba keys to evoke the lyrical imagery; "You drove/ my pain away/ Left it hanging among/ those cedar trees." The tonal scales played by the winds and strings abely conjure up the ancient Orient.

Open Field isn't so much a grower as a blossomer. Listening to it is like watching a time-lapse vision of a flower blooming. This is no coincidence, since Bergsman is a self-professed lover of trees and outdoor life, as her website takenbytrees.com will attest. The album's organic feel is enhanced by the fact that Bergsman lifted a page from the PB and J playbook and spontaneously recorded it in six consecutive days. In highlight track "Hours Pass Like Centuries," Bergsman tells us "Love will always have its ways/ Leave you singing to the trees." My sense is that most young folks will love Open Field and be left singing to Taken by Trees.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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