ALBUM REVIEW: OAK - DISINTEGRATE
HYPNOTIC, IMMERSIVE DOOM WITH NO HALF EMOTIONAL MEASURES.
Close your eyes and try to visualise something punitively futile and existentially despairing on a planetary scale. Something that captures the immeasurable enormity of spiritual loss. Perhaps a caravan of grieving souls stuck in an endless motorway traffic jam into blank infinity. Or perhaps to find oneself with the prolapsed soul of recruitment advisor faced with the purgatorial sentence of morbidly reviewing an eternal stream of woeful, agonizingly appalling résumés of the damned. Not even those may come close to the consuming weight of despair that occupies the lingering space between each drawn out snare beat in Oak’s new record (referred to as a single but with a run-time of 40 minutes) Disintegrate. Understand that the above isn’t a reference to the musical quality contained herein but the sheer morose depths of mood and doomy atmosphere in which Oak invite you to lose yourself.
You might not guess what lies ahead when listening to the gentle refrains of the records’ opening few minutes when sleepily sparse and reflective post rock plucks warm themselves in washes of synth. It actually feels peaceful until just after 3 minutes when the dam is broken and the deluge of primordial bear roars breaks forth with crashing, world-ending saturnine doom riffs. Time is a construct that matters less in Oak’s vast, contemplative realm. This music has a slow metabolism. Eschewing the fuzzed out, monolithic or trippy styles of doom this focusses instead on seething mournfulness where forlorn leads are deceivingly melodic. It has the crawl and psychological griefof My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost at their heaviest except this has a more lugubrious wide-screen sense of scope.
At just under 20 minutes, just when you are probably on the verge of astral projecting to somewhere unpleasant, you get a sharp kick to the shins when Oak suddenly release a howling gale of blast beats in one of their mightily sorrowful crescendos. It is one of the few indulgences in velocity across the record which, on the whole, sees the band meditate gloomily in quiet echoed spaces with only sparse thrumming vibrating through the void or tense gradual builds. By the final quarter of the album they move into more dissonant passages though the progressions are gradual and so the transition is easy to miss. There is, therefore, some form of narrative that sprawls out throughout Disintegrate where various sections morph into one another imperceptibly rather than being dissected into individual songs. The record ends quite unceremoniously and you are suddenly aware that you have been immersed for 40 minutes of emotive bludgeoning hypnotism.
This vein of music demands committed listening. Given the crawling tempo, however, that can be either an absorbing, immersive trip or an overwhelming weight to carry – it depends on mood the luxury of time. Like the symbolic tree after which the band have named themselves, Oak’s music develops and grows slowly, deliberately and sometimes imperceptibly but with unavoidable presence.
Disintegrate is released via Seasons of Mist.