Visions Of Trees are Sara Atalar and Joni Juden from East London and, while they’ve been around for some time, this is their debut album. You can almost hear the the tuttings of, ‘oh great, yet another electronica artist from Shoreditch’, can’t you. Yet, if you can get past their all-too-familiar biography, you’ll be treated to a self-titled debut that has plenty of charm.
The opening instrumental Isolates gives the listener a clear idea of what they’re in for. It’s then followed by the arresting Turn 2 U, hooking you in thanks to a combination of Atalar’s reverb-drenched vocals, claustrophobic synthesisers and a pounding beat that would seem tailored to the dance floor.
To say that this comes across as a poppier version of Crystal Castles would be going a bit far – there’s still a lot of darkness to be found – but those who found the combination of Alice Glass’s shrieks and Ethan Kath’s threatening synths a bit much for their tastes will find some solace in Visions Of Trees.
Ocean Floor is skittering and hypnotic and proves that they can create dark soundscapes without being too in-your-face, whilst Disappeared centres around a wonderful r’n'b influenced vocal melody. The variation merely serves to highlight the main strength of the record – it’s not afraid to experiment, to try out a whole range of ideas. The gothic tone and style might be consistent but throughout you can hear influences from a diverse range of places.
With You is one of a handful of tracks that takes the Visions Of Trees aesthetic and slows it down. It’s not quite mellow but it is certainly calm. We’re All Dust sacrifices song for atmosphere and the end result is haunting and ghoulish. Both songs have Atalar’s vocals at the forefront and she does the job well, resisting the temptation to belt it out, instead adopting a more controlled and harmonious style that really adds to the icy feel.
However, sometimes the vocals are to buried in the mix for their own good: the spoken-word verse of Endless Days Of Youth is close to inaudible and it’s hard to resist turning the volume up to the maximum to figure out what the hell she’s talking about.
After such a long time honing their skills, it’s a relief to find that it hasn’t been in vain. This is a decent debut effort with real thought behind its creation. Despite that, this is also the sound of a duo who are still working out the nuts and bolts of their own identity. It’s not perfect and there are two or three tracks that don’t really work, but it’s hard not to be won over by the LP as a whole. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that they’re more than capable of making a better one very soon.