Oak – Lighthouse

Oak - Lighthouse

It seems like Norwegians Oak embraced the cold climate they have up there on the north, and transcended that coldness through the music on Lighthouse, which was recently released on CD and vinyl via Apollon Records.

The album indeed feels cold, depressive, yet it’s a release that gives a hope. It is a big and bold step forward for a relatively new and unknown band on the scene. After “Prelude”, Lighthouse kicks off chillingly with “Home,” which is an arresting soundscape. Fragile echoes and simple yet sorrowful piano notes join the fray, creating an overwhelming sense of loss. I cannot say who does what within the band, as I couldn’t find any information except for the band members’ names, but whoever does keyboard work (actually mellotron) adds another dimension to the overall sound. It adds volumes to the profoundness, and although the vocals aren’t always discernible (the effects sometimes circumvent clarity), they’re nonetheless gripping. Like with the entire album, “Perceiving Red” is an exquisite example of how the human condition can be expressed absolutely through layers of luscious timbres.

Oak

The LP becomes a bit more complex and direct with “Munich” and “Stars Under Water,” which both soar due to piercing guitar work and pained dissonance. As for “Fire Walk With Me!,” it’s essentially a piano ballad with gloomy atmosphere and devastated syncopation.

Although the entire album is transcendent, the strongest track is probably “The Sea.” It’s a perfect blend of vocal melodies and complementary arrangements, and the way it evolves from just a piano motif to incorporate several other instruments is exceptionally intense and meaningful.

The remaining three tracks, “Where Did the Summer Go,” “Lighthouse,” and “Postludium — Walk of Atonement,” follow along the same path, highlighted by commanding percussion and understated harmonies and soft momentum. It has to be mentioned that there are also two interludes that connect the songs, titled as “Interlude 1″ and “Interlude 2,” and which give the album a smooth flow.

Lighthouse is a tour de force of emotion, delicacy, passion, cohesion, and grief-stricken beauty, and listeners will undoubtedly get lost in its sentiments and patterns. Each piece takes its time to develop, using both conventional and orchestral textures, as well as a plethora of vulnerable honesty, to make its statements. The record is a life-affirming experience. Few other albums have ever matched its magnificent combinations.

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