Oak is a band from Norway and consists of Simen Valldal Johanessen on piano and vocals, Oystein Sootholtet on bass, keys and programming, Sigbjorn Reiakvam on drums, keys and programming, Stephan Hvinden on guitars and backing vocals and Ole Michael Bjorndal on guitars and backing vocals.
Their debut Lighthouse saw the light of day in the year 2013. I do not know that album so I cannot compare this second one, False Memory Archive with the first one.
If I take a look at the delivered information the band has a wide source of inspiration (Opeth, Ulver, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Depeche Mode, Mew, Simon & Garfunkel and many others). That makes me curious of what kind of trip we will make in listening to their music.
We, The Drowned is the first one on the disc. It opens with great spacey keyboard sounds. If Simen starts singing, it sounds a bit depressing with his nasal voice, but what a good voice he has. The music is really fresh, not too pompous but just fine music. The singing together is good. It is all about the song. Good opening song.
Claire The Lune opens in the style of Lunatic Soul, it sounds a little bit pinched, anxious in the first minute. There is space for all instruments and I hear blissful Eastern sounds with threatening moments. You feel the building tension and after the climax you can hear the relaxed solo on bass. It all ends with a solo on guitar with a little bit distortion, nice!
False Memory Archive is all about singing, it is really important and touches you deeply. The music is somewhat on the background. All members claps in their hands on a given moment, really original and contagious, before you know your hands are clapping too.
A special mention for Lost Causes in which Bjorn Riis of Airbag plays the lead guitar. The opening takes its time, it all sounds threatening, including the vocals. The singing together is, again, really powerful. The style of drumming is really own. The atmosphere is great and I notice that I am increasing the volume, it may come inside of you. The horn section is more than welcome, how incredibly intense is this, wow! Towards the end it all becomes more and more intense, more voluminous and powerful. What a power has the horn. After this highlight it feels as if you are liberated, you have some breath again, haaahhh....
After the fantastic Lost Causes you will hear quiet piano sounds in Intermezzo, that overflows in the longest track of the album, The Lights that is another highlight for me. It is a song in Steven Wilson style, somewhat depressing, but also a song in which a lotis happening. There is a really modern intermediary that we can call the new prog, well done. If you have the idea that everything the music has to give you, will be revealed in the first spin, you will be disappointed. You will have to listen to this songs a lot of times and every time you will hear new things. And again the singer takes you by the throat again.
These Are The Stars We're Aiming For has again a lot of variety. Transparent Eyes is a bit more quiet and has a dragging intro. The closing song, Psalm 51 has, again, a lot of variety. You will hear a beautiful duo solo on keyboard and guitars. After this song has ended you feel only blessed that you got to know this album. I now run to the store to buy their debut album Lighthouse!!!
****+ Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2019