Oak, False Memory Archive, 2018
Tracks: We, The Drowned (5:24), Claire De Lune (7:16), False Memory Archive (4:56), Lost Causes (8:30), Intermezzo (1:42), The Lights (10:34), These Are The Stars We’re Aiming For (4:19), Transparent Eyes (4:59), Psalm 51 (7:26)
[Edit: The original version of this review included a track listing with the wrong track order. I offer my sincerest apologies to the band and to our readers for this mistake.]
Have you ever found yourself so utterly satisfied by something in life that you find yourself feeling guilty for enjoying it? For me, that is Oak’s music. Their two albums are flawless. Every note. Every theme. Every lyric. Every wash of sound. Perfection.
2016’s Lighthouse blew me away. I’m not sure how much attention the band has received in more popular press (i.e., Prog magazine), but beyond Progarchy, the Dutch Progressive Rock Page (where I and Andy Read have promoted the group), Prog Sphere, and the Prog Mind, I haven’t seen the band covered all that much. That is a downright shame because this band has reached into a completely new level of brilliance.
Oak is prog in the vein of Pink Floyd’s, Riverside’s, Porcupine Tree’s, and Steven Wilson’s atmospheric and contemplative moments. Unlike those bands, Oak never abandon that overarching theme. Their new album, False Memory Archive, may start with a pounding drum intro reminiscent of the heavier moments in rock history, but that does not take the band away from their overall sound. Instead, it grounds them in rock, and it allows them to explore broad soundscapes. The band goes from quiet contemplative moments to heavy guitar driven rock in places all over the album. Throughout the first track, the heavy drumming seemingly contradicts the warm vocals and soothing piano and synth sounds, but when taken together it really doesn’t. The end result is a layered effect that allows the music to build gradually.