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(51:55, Apollon Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Prelude 1:13 2. Home 5:15 3. Perceiving Red 6:24 4. Munich 4:32 5. Stars Under Water 5:22 6. Interlude I 1:17 7. The Sea 8:35 8. Fire, Walk With Me! 6:20 9. Interlude II 0:56 10. Where Did the Summer Go 3:12 11. Lighthouse 4:47 12. Walk of Atonement 4:02 LINEUP: Simen Valldal Johannessen – vocals; keyboards Ole Michael Bjorndal – guitars Oystein Sootholtet - bass, guitars; keyboards, programming Sigbjorn Reiakvam – drums; programming, keyboards; guitars With: Bjorn Riis – guitars Henrik Skjervum – guitars Steinar Refsdal – saxophone
Prolusion. The Norwegian band OAK was formed in 2013, and has their base of operation in Oslo. They released their debut album "Lighthouse" as a digital album in 2013. This album was later picked up by the Norwegian label Apollon Records and was officially released on CD in 2016.
Analysis. As far as progressive rock and progressive music goes, Oak is among those bands who mainly explore the more subtle and delicate side of it. They favor the careful over the dramatic, and tend to opt for the delicate option rather than the harder edged one. Appealing music, but also rather quirkier than what many would describe as mainstream-oriented. Not that the music is lacking in a broader appeal, but rather a case of music having such a aspect to it without being less complex or sophisticated. Wandering, gentle guitars and piano motifs are fairly often prominent throughout, as are careful, calm lead and backing vocals. Elegant and mainly unobtrusive electronic sounds and rhythm effects are ongoing features throughout, and distanced, fluctuating sound textures also an element used rather frequently, this latter aspect adding a touch of post-rock to the proceedings at times. The arrangements move from the sparse and delicate to the layered and carefully intense, fairly often with a melancholic atmosphere as distinct and defining element. A couple of intermissions sporting a more drone-oriented textured instrumentation have found their way on to this CD as well, and on a couple of occasions dark toned, harder guitar riffs are given place as well, as on the brilliantly captivating composition Munich. Otherwise it may be noted that quite a few compositions feature sounds and elements that come with something of a folk music vibe to them, as a subtle addition to the arrangements rather than as a dominant one. Careful, emotionally laden progressive rock is the name of the game here, with a select few lapses into harder edged landscapes, but mainly staying within a more delicate environment, where the use of careful sounds are used to good effect to build tension and intensity up and down.
Conclusion. Oak's brand of progressive rock is one that ideally should have a fairly broad reach. The careful compositions aren't too far away from a band like Gazpacho in style, while the few harder edged ones take on more of a Porcupine Tree oriented sound. Those who know and treasure the material of both those bands should probably take note of this CD, as my guess is that the greater majority of them will find this record to be an interesting one.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 14, 2016
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