Victoria Bergsman must have taken a Moon Safari with Air, with a stopover in the ultra-chill Pacific Islands. The Swedish native, formerly of the Concretes, embraces reggae and tropical sounds on her latest solo venture, Other Worlds, which, under the guise of the palatial Taken by Trees, is a true exploration of the farthest reaches of an artist’s aptitude. It meanders and searches for stable footing, but unknown roads are often the most exciting to take, in spite of (or because of) the risk factor.
What prompts a Nordic woman to capitalize on the energy of the tropics? With an explorer’s curiosity she straps on her snorkel and dives headfirst into the tumultuous waters. She finds them to be quite placid — no threat of predators here. Instead, she grooves on the relaxing ebbs and lets the current take her where it pleases. “Pacific Blue,” for example, could fit on the “Hawaii Five-O” soundtrack, glistening as Grace Park goes surfing and the rest of the cast enjoy snow cones.
The whole project reads like Bergsman’s own “Hakuna Matata” — Other Worlds is an aural vacation from strife. Fall might be coming, but Taken by Trees is still downing those piña coladas by the shore. But this is no normal getaway: Her cerebral beach comes with multiple sunsets and space-age dirigibles, astral projections and Technicolor palm trees. Her beverages are spiked with a bit of spirituality and Zen. Remember those popular paintings from the beginning of the environmental-preservation movement in the ’90s with the orcas swimming among the stars? This record feels like that: weightless, bizarre but gorgeous.
Bergsman never sings above a whisper, possessed of a universal, floating spirit summoning her to higher consciousness. “No one will believe us when we’re doubting what we see,” she says with a velvet touch on “Dreams,” a languid piece that swirls like a specter. Maybe she’s suggesting that the Big Questions of the Cosmos can simultaneously be contemplated while playing a nice game of volleyball. Everything is equally important and trivial. It’s all entwined in the fabric of space.
To cut through the heaviness, she clops percussion together like Monty Python’s Patsy on “Dreams (Coconut Cut).” She invites us to join her on this dazzling quest that others might deem foolhardy. A reggae-tinged record by a snow-white maiden of the North, you say? Is this some sort of a joke? But it works. Some things in this galaxy are unexplainable, and the serene success of Other Worlds happens to be one of them.
Stream: Taken by Trees – “Dreams”