Some records simply do their thing and light up the pleasure centers in your brain. Other records hum with a strange and unclassifiable energy that penetrates every bone and pore and follicle in your body. Lake House Sessions, the sophomore EP from Milwaukee five-piece As Oak (styled “as Oak”), falls into the latter category. On tap are somber and spacey soundscapes, hushed and National-esque vocals, and vibes somewhere between “dream” and “stoned revelation.” It’s one of the most haunting, lovely, and enigmatic local records of the year.
Lake House Sessions‘ strange energy is immediately apparent in instrumental opener “Flight Of The Loon.” A gentle wash of guitar and synth is pierced by a cosmic harmonica straight out of Cowboy Bebop. The song hangs in the air (or would that be space?) for nearly seven minutes, expanding and contracting and unfurling like a kite tail (or would that be a comet tail?). “Constant Rain” and “Living Like Ghosts” both feature arresting vocals from Jesse Frye, but retain the record’s twilight-hour ambiance. “Where Do I Escape?” mixes things up with an increasingly sci-fi feel and vocals indebted to Bon Iver, while nine-minute closer “Jailbird” channels the Twin Peaks Roadhouse with a creeping menace and otherworldly sax.
The as Oak lineup (Frye, Jason Hillesheim, Blake Lorino, Sean Maroney, Christian Ricco) formed over the course of 2017 and 2018, and released its debut EP, Dream, in 2021. Lake House Sessions, meanwhile, was born out of a three-day winter jam session in a small house on Lower Nemahbin Lake. That isolated intimacy, that sense of exploration, are just two of the record’s most fascinating features. Drop in on Lake House Sessions to discover the rest.
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