Visions of Trees
XOYO, Old Street
‘Tropical pop’ is a neat – if kind of crude – tag for those sun-drenched songs built on rippling textures, polyphonic rhythms and ‘primitive’ percussion (as if played by whooping loin-clothed islanders, maybe – told you it was crude). But over on the shady side of the island, where the vegetation lies in damp tangles rarely brushed by the equatorial sun, a cooler, dreamier kind of ‘tropical pop’ germinates. Visions of Trees add a dose of minor-chord industrialism to this darker side of trop-pop, like the twisted steel of a burnt-out propeller plane rusting in the jungle.
Without labouring the metaphor any further, the duo carve a downbeat niche from Joni’s mournful beats and Sara’s RnB-inflected vocals, like the sadface rave of The Knife or Crystal Castles. Annoyingly, all that ethereal dreaminess falls pancake-flat on stage at XOYO, with the untreated vocals too plain and too high in the mix to chime with the lazy Liz Fraser comparison I’d heard. While the beats are interesting enough – if nowhere near ground-breaking – the show would be more captivating if VoT fucked with the good-girl vocals. There’s no denying the potential, but maybe they can’t visualise the wood for the… nah, I won’t say it.
By Chal Ravens
Originally published in issue 24 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. December 2010