The Italian band O.A.K. (Oscillazioni Alchemico Kreative) is a musical project by multi-instrumentalist Jerry Cutillo, born and raised in Rome where he witnessed many Classic Prog in
the early Sventies, from Genesis and King Crimson to Gentle Giant, Yes and Frank Zappa. At the age of 15 he joined his first band, then in the late Seventies he decided to cut his hair and colour it red in order to move to London and experience the era of
the punk. Meanwhile he had also become a Jethro Tull fan, blown away by acoustic pearls like Wond'ring Again and Witch's Promise. After a serie of bands he created the one man band Moses and reached the European charts with the dance friendly song We Just,
I remember the video clip on tv, and it even got a silver status! But in 1993 he went back to his roots and founded O.A.K, to make progressive rock, and he played Jethro Tull tribute shows,even with his hero Ian Anderson.
Not until 2015 O.A.K. released its first album entitled Viandanze and in 2018 the successor Giordano Bruno, a concept album. "After seven years of trial Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic and the Inquisition
issued a sentence of death in 1600. He was hung upside down naked before he was finally burned at the stake. A very cruel and sad end for a man who nowadays is considered as a 'courageous free thinker' and a 'martyr for science'. Because his daring and innovative
ideas and work had much influence on later scientists and philosophers." After this highly acclaimed second album Jerry Cutillo decided to present another concept album entitled Nine Witches Under A Walnut Tree (to be released on September 9th, 2020). "The
legend tells that flying through the gorges of the Monti del Taburno, near the city of Benevento, the witches reached a walnut tree where they celebrated rituals. On 14th November 1572, whilst the earth shone with the light of the Tycho supernova, nine stories
merged into one sublimating a bond of deep empathy tightened under the branches of that bewitched tree."
After a few listening sessions I conclude that O.A.K. delivers interesting
and varied music, to me it sounds like an eclectic approach, blending 24-carat symphonic rock, folk, experimental and rock, with lots of own musical ideas, a genuine musical journey, with a lush instrumentation.
1. Chlodswinda (6:12) : This first composition is a captivating and compelling blend of folk and prog (reminding me of Ayreon and Led Zeppelin)
featuring cheerful mandolins, delicate synthesizers, layers of sultry Mellotron violins, warm Italian vocals (to me evoking Angelo Branduardi), and in the end a pleasant flute sound, trademark Jerry Cutillo. An impressive start!
2. Gioconna (3:49) : This short instrumental is built around a catchy beat, embellished with tasteful work on flute traverse, synthesizers and again those majestic Mellotron violins. Halfway a break with an ominous
atmosphere, including voices.
3. Dame Harvillers (5:10) : What a strong build-up, from dreamy with Grand piano and French vocals to sumptuous with awesome organ and synthesizer
work, this part sounds like an exciting tribute to mid-Genesis at its symphonic peak!
4. Janet Boyman (3:32) : In this beautiful short piece we can enjoy a surprising duet between
the tin whistle and the Mellotron choir section, a very nice musical idea.
5. Franchetta Borelli (6:25) : First an ominous climate with howling electric guitar, then mellow with
whispering vocals, culminating in a bombastic outburst featuring emotional vocals with a strong, pretty desperate undertone. Tension builds with again howling electric guitar, then suddenly a shifting mood with swinging electric piano and a tight drum beat,
another fine musical idea. Finally the return of the howling electric guitar and whispering vocals.
6. Polissena (4:41) : Now O.A.K. is going more experimental featuring lots
of changing atmospheres (from mellow to bombastic) and a varied blend of instruments: a fiery claghorn (woodwind instrument) blended with percussion, orchestral keyboards, and in the end flute traverse and powerfull bass runs. This track has echoes from the
distinctive King Crimson 'organized chaos theory', fascinating and creative.
7. Donna Prudentia (5:27) : A slow rhythm gradually turns into a more lush and dynamic sound with
again a variety of instruments, from Mellotron choirs and tubular bells to spacey synthesizer flights and powerful saxophone play (from VDGG guest musician David Jackson). The music is topped by warm Italian vocals, again reminding me of Angelo Branduardi,
8. Nadira (5:30) : The first part sounds atmospheric with a variety of sounds, and whispering vocals. Halfway a break featuring a catchy bass, blended with delicate
vibraphone, varied keyboards, cheerful flute and voices, this part showcases the more experimental side of O.A.K.
9. Rebecca Lemp (6:02) : This final composition matches with
Jerry his eclectic muscial attitude, it's far from the usual prog rock conclusions, more close to the final of a rock opera. It starts with a slow and hypnotizing rhythm, and contains slightly distorted German vocals by Jerry Cutillo (in the tradition of David
Bowie and Peter Gabriel), in between German spoken words by the long term O.A.K. fan Gerlinde Roth. 'Warum nur soll ich eine Hexe sein? Lasst mich frei, lasst mich frei! Was in aller Welt haben wir getan? Wann h'rt's auf mit diesem Wahn? Warum nur sollen wir
Hexen sein? Lasst uns frei, lasst uns frei.' To me this sounds as a metaphor for the dark side of the human being, horrible. In the second part a build-up to a more bombastic conclusion with female vocals singing 'lalala'.
After his highly acclaimed second album Giordano Bruno (just read al those positive reviews on the international progrock websites) O.A.K. has delivered a captivating successor, with strong own musical ideas, and lots
of variety, in musical climates and instrumentation, this is an album to discover!
© 2020 Erik Neuteboom