Oak is a Norwegian progressive pop/rock band that originally emerged from a folk-rock duo. The four members have a diverse background spanning from classical piano to electronica, prog- and hard-rock, with references to the alternative scene as well as progressive rock – something that has combined to make a distinguished and unique sound.
OAK originated as a folk-rock duo, which expanded into today’s lineup of Simen Valldal Johannessen on vocals, piano and keys, Øystein Sootholtet on bass, acoustic and electric guitars, Sigbjørn Reiakvam on drums, percussion, programming, keys and guitars, and Stephan Hvinden on lead, rhythm and slide guitars.
Musically, ‘The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise’ is the most dynamic Oak album so far, with a wide range of influences showing through. We’re still in very familiar Oak territory, but with some sharper edges and some surprising twists and turns. After their previous album ‘False Memory Archive’, the band set out to write some shorter songs for a change – and ended up with their longest songs yet. As on their other albums, there are subtle hints to both past and future songs in the Oak universe.
For this album, the band decided to write about an important and touchy subject – Suicide and psychic health in general. Music as an art form can be very open for interpretation, so to be sure that the message comes across, they’ve asked for advice from experienced scholars on the subject. The font used on the album cover is partially made of handwriting from two real suicide notes, to underline the concept.
There’s a deep underlying wistfulness and melancholy to this third album from the band and that’s entirely understandable considering the subject matter. Thoughtful and engrossing, the music is meaningful and contemplative and the lyrics are insightful and hard hitting.
When music is used as a relayer of a serious and often unsettling subject, it can add even more meaning, observation and perception and when that music is as brilliant as it is on a piece of work as exceptional as this, it really does bring home what the band are trying to get across. At times wide screen and cinematic and at others, minimalistic and sparse, ‘The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise’ is a musical masterpiece in inception and delivery.
This is a near perfect collection of songs where every track is a a complete work of art, from the hard-hitting opening trio of the dynamic Highest Tower, Deepest Well, the sparse, plaintive and melancholic Quiet Rebellion and the grandiose, compelling and potent Dreamless Sleep to the epic splendour and pomp of my personal favourite Paperwings, this is an intense and profound emotional journey.
Add in Sunday 8 AM, a beautifully judged near six minutes of music that sees vocalist Simen Valldal Johannessen at his most touching and emotive and the harder edged rock of the charismatic Demagogue Communion and this is a thoughtful, often melancholy, delight of an album and, when you come to the wishful and reflective whimsy of album closer Guest of Honour, it is almost like saying goodbye to a close friend with whom you have had a life changing experience.
Oak have a unique, innovative sound and you can hear it mature and transform on every album they release. Their approach to music is refreshing and sees them deliver meaningful music that has heart and soul and, with ‘The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise’, these talented musicians have created their most accomplished and consummate work yet.
Released 11th November, 2022.
Order the album here: