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Crossover Prog • Norway

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Oak biography
Founded in Oslo, Norway in 2013

Oak is an Oslo based quartet made up by Simen Valldal Johannessen (vocals, keyboards), Øystein Sootholtet (bass), Ole Michael Bjørndal (guitars) and Sigbjørn Reiakvam (drums, percussion, programming). All the band members are in their late 20's or early 30's and have mostly grown up in the Oslo area. They have a huge variation in their musical inspirations - everything from classical composers and singer/songwriters to electronica, progressive rock and metal.

Oak released their debut album, Lighthouse as a digital release in September 2013. In addition a limited run of CD's was produced for promotional purposes and to accommodate sales at gigs. The album was mixed and mastered at Fascination Street Studios by noted producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Symphony X, Paradise Lost).

As of January 2015 the band is working on new material for their second album, and are working towards getting international distribution for this forthcoming album as well as becoming a more active band in the live circuit.

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OAK discography

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OAK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.94 | 31 ratings
3.80 | 51 ratings
False Memory Archive

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OAK Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 False Memory Archive by OAK album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.80 | 51 ratings

False Memory Archive
Oak Crossover Prog

Review by shaunch

4 stars I really like this. It is thoughtful, melodic, dark and moody. I enjoyed it even more, once I had got those, "where I have I heard this before' niggles out of the way. This started on track one with "We, the Drowned". There is an Arena groove going on from the "Moviedrome" album followed by a sneaky piano line from the album " The Incident" (Porcupine Tree). It took me a day to figure out the main tune during "the lights" which is "Sound of contact" and then the obvious clapping from "Trains" from PT which also appears in the title track. (That could become a distraction) Now I could start listening, I enjoyed "Claire De Lune" with a Lunatic soul or No-man vibe, the title track with it's reference to polaroids and faded dreams of summers past, "The Lights" which has a groove with a spoken word, reminded me of Depeche Mode or Placebo, not sure why.

On the first few listens, I thought the album faded a little after this, but actually, after repeated listens I actually enjoyed the mood of the last three tracks, in particular, "Psalm 51" which rounds everything off with a Floydian feel with saxophone (not my fav but used well here) and underlying voices reminiscent of DSOTM.

This has the sound of their previous album because it is unmistakable due to the vocals which remind me of Colin Vearcombe of "Black" from the eighties which I think is a good thing, however, there is more variety in the use of instruments and style. At times you can make comparisons to other artists, in a positive way, but their sound is unique and it gives me melodic and moody sounds that I enjoy, I suppose like a more accessible Thomas Thielen or hook filled "Mice on Stilts" (New Zealand band worth a listen if you like this)

This band is up there with Gazpacho and Airbag, adding to the Norwegian list of top artists producing this type of music.

 False Memory Archive by OAK album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.80 | 51 ratings

False Memory Archive
Oak Crossover Prog

Review by Antonis Kalamoutsos

4 stars I was recently told a story in which a teacher told his student: ''Don't let the potential of Great destroy what it's already Good''. Naturally, an encouragement like this seems to be a bit discrepant in our beautiful capitalistic world, where creators of any sort have to be competitive and constantly prove their excellence. The teacher obviously meant that pursuing excellence may distract a creator from the simpler forms of creating/producing that should rule his/her everyday life and I can do nothing more than agree, adding to this that many creators in the world of music got lost into some extravagant ambition. We can agree that there are serious risks if a band decides to spend a lot of time in creating something unique. This is a risk that Oak from Norway took and thankfully succeeded.

According to the press release, they started as a folk/rock duo and eventually evolved into a progressive pop/rock band, releasing the debut Lighthouse in 2013. It was right then upon this creative curve that, instead of taking an advantage of the momentum, they decided to take their time to work and to grow. It was probably the only way to make their own personal voice rise above the noisy polyphony of their influences which, in their own words, range from classical and electronica to traditional prog or heavy music. Carefully listening to False Memory Archive indeed one can sense the multifaceted nature of their inspiring origins and feel relieved that their growing procedure and hard work was fruitful. Filtering their influences has been accomplished in an astonishing manner and their personal voice can be heard loud and clear.

To put things into place, the material included in False Memory Archive is that of a great band. To be more precise, most of the regarded as ''big'' bands within the 2018 prog rock cosmos, do not have such good music to offer. It's as simple as that. Being consistent, imaginative and open minded, this David manages to raise his short height and cast an enormous shadow. Moving into a melodic and lyrical rock musical territory ' dominated by their countrymates Gazpacho in recent years -, the artistic quality of False Memory Archive instantly puts Oak in a very prominent place among their context. Let me rephrase: it has been a marvelous year for prog rock and Oak deliver one of the finest albums of the genre. As simple as that.

Oak's style is not necessarily innovative and its progressiveness lies mostly in the atmospheres and the intellectuality of their compositions. Still, it is the exact same compositions that consist of such melodic and arranging richness that can actually be experienced as a flood of colours and emotions. False Memory Archive includes a very wide range of songwriting, from semi-ballads and verse/chorus traditional type of songs to freer, longer 8 to 11 minutes compositions. Both types are equally successful, contributing to the album's very natural flow and the remarkable sequence of lighter and darker parts. Also, you won't find any fillers here, maybe with the slight exception of Transparent Eyes that didn't particularly trip me. Having referred to the dark element, I have to point out the incredible work that has been done to the album's low frequencies in every instrument, frequencies that build a concrete and modern ground for the melodic lines to stand upon. In the above sentence, False Memory Archive 's greatest advantages are being encoded: vocals and production.

Vocals. Simen Johannensen can be proud to own one of those instantly recognizable voices with the very unique timbre, voices that become increasingly rare to find. The warmth and intimacy of his voice is the Trojan horse of Oak's music and his modest performance doesn't disguise the tone quality of a voice fully capable of creeping into one's mind. My personal free associations connect him with the recent legacy of Leprous and of his other countrymen Madrugada, precisely in the middle of their tonal pitch.

Production. Many artists treat studio as an unavoidable obligation but Oak instead have worked their heads off exploring any sonic resources at their disposal, in order to achieve an exquisite and technocratic result. All mixing/processing tools and the perfect use of effects in every instrument at all times make the sound experience a co-star of the album and the music sounding thicker, unpredictable and adventurous. An ideal album to be experienced through good quality headphones so one can dive into its tiny sound details.

We all know very well that music industry is not necessarily fair and no one knows how Oak will develop. What I know though is that the often mentioned ''Home'' in their lyrics, the Home they seek can be easily found in the hearts of their listeners. I know also that this 'Polaroid that's telling a lie about endless summer' may describe many things but not False Memory Archive. For this album tells a small, triumphant truth of a real memory. As simple as that.

Originally written for

 Lighthouse by OAK album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.94 | 31 ratings

Oak Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars 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.

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.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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