Ever since releasing debut LP On Claws (2010), Thijs Kuijken, the pivotal force behind Utrecht alt-folk/slowcore formation I Am Oak, has been an artist who opts to explore rather than reveal. That particular mindset is beautifully reflected in his music: always adrift in reverie, modestly surrendering to the moment, as his honeyed voice pleasantly rests between sound and poetry. I Am Oak is and always remains instantly recognizable in all its elusiveness and vividness.
On upcoming full-length Osmosis, released internationally on Snowstar Records, Kuijken reveals the origin of I Am Oak’s intuitive work for the very first time. The title actually betrays it: »osmosis« is a term for the unconscious processing and assimilation of certain ideas, experiences, and knowledge. Music, but also photography, can potentially transform this process into something surreal. This has always been I Am Oak’s gift as well: Kuijken habitually transmutes his feelings and thoughts into natural phenomena and landscapes. A good example is »Kamikochi« where a sense of wonder about a straight rainbow in the Japanese Hida Mountains becomes the starting point for deeper reflections.
Throughout Osmosis there are similar selective memories mysteriously filtered within Kuijken’s mind. New single »Swells«, for example, originated in Sardinia when a wild boar suddenly ran under the guardrail of a highway, right in front of Kuijken’s car. A completely random incident that (fortunately) ended with both parties unharmed, but unexpectedly, sparked cogent new perspectives. »Swells« captures this rude awakening thrillingly; the crystalline vocals and spiraling piano melody are entrenched in the climax by massivesounding distortion guitars.
Osmosis has, therefore, become a source of comfort and new insights: not just for the person listening in, but for its own maker as well. On the closing cut »Wondrous Ways«, Kuijken attests as much: »I came out unwound / from all I’ve ever come across.«
»Düster, geheimnisvoll und ohne jede Eile
schwirren I Am Oak mit Frontmann und
Sänger Thijs Kuijken durch das Album
Osmosis, eine Ansammlung stiller und
zerbrechlicher Glückseligkeiten.« (Good Times, Oktober / November 2019)
»Seine melancholisch-poetischen Songträumereien laden den Hörer dazu ein, mal kurz dem Alltag zu entfliehen.« (Stereo, November 2019)