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Taken By Trees | East of Eden

Rough Trade (2009)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  September 2, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars


Truth be told, I get a little crumply whenever I hear of Western indie types going off on East-bound inspirational jaunts. If not undertaken with some restraint — as in, say, the various approaches/appropriations of Polvo, the Joggers, or, here, Victoria Bergsman of Concretes/"Young Folks" fame, now going as Taken by Trees — this kind of æsthetic tourism can saddle listeners with an uncomfortable vicarious fanny pack.

Another hazard is coming off as overly mystified or just plain indelicate (stirring the ghost of Edward Said) rather than simply attentive and intuitive. On East of Eden, Bergsman's setting — various indoor and outdoor sites around Pakistan — reveals itself gently in hue and milieu. Often it's as if the songs were just windows to the streets below.

"Anna" opens with a swelling loop of children in the street chanting at play before tapering into slender, sunshiny pop of the sort that gets Target execs thinking spring. "Greyest Love of All" has a stirringly slack melancholy that, but for Bergsman's brightening effect, could've been a homage to Viva Hate. "My Boys" fires Animal Collective's bottle rocket into clearer night skies; "Bekännelse" finds her chanting Swedish atop a sprawling drone of harmonium, flute, and sitar. Because Bergsman keeps Eden's doors open (centerpiece "Wapas Karma" is a traditional performed entirely by locals), there's a natural light and a welcome freshness — a breeze from across the world, rather than a suitcase of souvenirs.

Related: Best unsung albums of 2009, Is 2010 the Year of the Girl?, The Big Hurt: The decade ahead, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Animal Collective, Animal Collective, Victoria Bergsman,  More more >
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