I Am Oak - Nowhere Or Tammensaari

The record is all about timing; about choosing the best moment to introduce the limited instrumentation. Thijs Kuiken’s laconic drawl is the anchor on which the sound is moored: the other key sounds that are present are stripped to the essentials.

 

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Nowhere Or Tammensaari is an album that takes a fair bit of listening but if you give it time, it can become quite a hypnotic listen. Songs like Roam and Marrow seem to slowly marinate in the listener’s mind, their simplicity, which at first can be mildly exasperating, becomes their main strength, you start to really appreciate the chord changes or increase in pressure or emotion as in a track like Drooom. Only the Reins stirs itself to any sort of ebullience.

Apparently this record was recorded in a Finland over the winter of 2011-12. And there is something of that winter stillness in the music - the feeling of being cooped up in a snowed-in shack, and looking to be entertained with a quiet song or two. As such it does feel a bit strange, sat here listening to Nowhere Or Tammensaari whilst I can see people frolic in a sunny park, but as I said, its strength is its patience and understated, simple song writing.

The record is all about timing; about choosing the best moment to introduce the limited instrumentation. Thijs Kuiken’s laconic drawl is the anchor on which the sound is moored: the other key sounds that are present are stripped to the essentials. With tracks like Cluster, Famine or the excellent single Palpable, you get very little sonic filler indeed - outside of a small backing chorus which pops up to reinforce Kuiken’s lugubrious lyrics. The atmosphere is burnished by the odd drum beat and guitar lick or effect but that’s it. It’s a record for wide open spaces -though I wonder if it would drive you nuts listening to it in the wilderness, so barren is its feel: or maybe one to soundtrack a long summer evening’s meditation.

Wherever you listen to it, give it some time and you should be rewarded.