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Oaksenham - Conquest Of The Pacific CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 55 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Like their countryman Vahan ARTSRUNI, OAKSENHAM operates in a neurotic folk tinged setting, with uneasy interactions between heavy guitars and flutes being predominant. While ARTSRUNI was more skilled in the folk realm, OAKSENHAM is at its most compelling when the arrangements transition into symphonic dominions, which transpires more and more as this debut album unfolds.

While nobody can fault the lively and TULL-like acoustic aspects of the opener, drenching rhythm guitars are breathlessly inserted, generally resurfacing during breaks in the flute work, almost as if the musicians are bowing to each other, or tag teaming. The problem is they are not in the same court, and the other predominant instrument, the organ, manages to occupy yet another orthogonal plane. Comparisons to GENTLE GIANT and MINIMUM VITAL help to depict this proficient but clinical methodology.

Luckily the group opts for a mini symphony for the 5 part title cut, and here all is integrated far better. The pinnacle is Part 3 (although Part 4 is close behind) where they manage to more deftly blend the previously disparate elements in combination with what sounds like oboe but could be anything I suppose. At times this enchanting music recalls the CAMEL's "Snow Goose" and, in the final part, some flashy RICK WAKEMAN styles keys reach a crescendo. Unfortunately, the inclusion of a portion of "Pomp and Circumstance" only underscores, by comparison, the limitations of this symphony. I cannot imagine the point of this juxtaposition.

It's unclear whether OAKSEHAM plans to record any more, but one hopes they will smooth out a few of the rough cut surfaces and focus on a more overtly symphonic style in the future, which seems to be their trump card if this partial conquest is any indication.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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