[Review] O.A.K. (Oscillazioni Alchemico Kreative) – Nine Witches Under a Walnut Tree

O.A.K. (Oscillazioni Alchemico Kreative) is a project of the Italian multi-instrumentalist Jerry Cutillo born in September 1993. Only in 2015 he released his first full-length and since then two other albums have been released, the last of which is “Nine Witches Under a Walnut Tree.” Released on September 9, 2020 via Goodfellas and available on Vinyl or Digital, it contains 9 medium-length tracks, with the presence of several notable guests. Jerry Cutillo plays all the instruments and is also the lead vocalist, while in some songs there are several supporting guests, mainly the backing and narrated vocal parts, the bass and the winds. Initially the band was cataloged as a Prog cover band, due to Jerry‘s great passion for Ian Anderson and Jethrto Tull‘s music, managing to perfectly reproduce his flute evolutions. Having over time found his style within the Symphonic Prog, Cutillo and his project close this esoteric trilogy with this album that is inspired by an Italian legend. 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 November 14, 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. The opener “Chlodswinda” is characterized by an intro that catapulted us into the Middle Ages, to then build the main melodies around the mandolin and with a strong Folk accent. The mix with Prog is of exquisite workmanship, passing through layers of keyboards such as Mellotron and a soft Synth. The rhythmic session is rich and engaging, the sung in Italian adds Folklore to the track, which closes with a pleasant flute solo by Jerry, a good start, full of ideas and positive melodies. “Gioconna” is an instrumental passage that follows the great tradition of the Italian Progressive, with an engaging rhythmic session. The keyboards that are layered and intertwined with the flute, creating that 70s Prog atmosphere. In the central part there is a section with an operatic voice, to then return decisively into Prog with the keyboards that are the main protagonists. Jerry‘s flute is always present and adds a touch of value to the compositions, this is a short but intense piece. The grand piano and French vocal characterize the “Dame Harvillers” structure, with dreamy melodies built on an orchestral mellotron carpet. We are in a 70s-style Symphonic Prog territory with fine synth inserts and a solid rhythm session, full of tempo changes. The keyboards are protagonists creating positive melodies showing a remarkable technical mastery, confirming the good creative and executive vein of this project. “Janet Boyman” is another short passage that blends a cheerful Folk-style flute on a mellotron choral layer, mixing the two main sources of inspiration of the band: Prog and traditional music. Another pleasant passage that softens the tones and instills positivity in the listener. “Franchetta Borelli” is one of the longest and most elaborate tracks on the album, initially with dark tones created by sound intertwining between keyboards and electric guitar. The bass is deep and disturbing, while the Italian vocal is very warm and emotional and the intensity of the track increases with the passing of the minutes. In the second part it becomes more rhythmic, while maintaining that dark atmosphere also in the instrumental section, the vocal returns for the last verse and the piece closes. “Polissena” changes course, proposing less conventional and at times experimental sounds. The track begins with a fiery claghorn that offers particular melodies that are mixed with percussion and orchestrations to the mellotron, all embellished by continuous tempo changes. Much refined in structure, in the performance and in combining the instruments, a track different from the usual repertoire of the band, which despite being more intricate is original and pleasant, as well as functional in the album tracklist. “Donna Prudentia” which begins with a dark mellotron, and then turns into a track with a more linear structure and closer to a committed and elaborate Italian ‘song’. The second part begins with the entry of Jackson‘s sax which offers short but precise inserts. A track in which we find a vast amount of instruments and melodies that remain in the head, while the interventions on the sax bring the sound to a higher level. “Nadira” features two different parts, the first half with atmospheric sounds with a warm and deep vocal. A hypnotic bass repeated with spatial layers of keyboards and choral insets, with all the effected sounds that seem to guide us on an intergalactic journey. In the final section it is transformed with a percussive rhythmic session on which flute inserts and a narrated vocal are drawn that accompany us at the end. “Rebecca Lemp” resumes in the initial part the atmospheric sounds that characterized the previous song, up to the entry of the vocal, distorted and in German. A song with positive and cheerful melodies, a pleasant closure for this album, keeping the level high also in this ending. The trilogy proposed by Jerry Cutillo with this project of his comes to an end, with a third mature and well-made chapter, offering a sound with personal characteristics. Well conceived and with good ideas, with first-rate guests, and Jerry’s technique that expresses itself on a high standard throughout the duration of the album. A listening recommended for all lovers of Progressive sounds, mixing 70s influences with modern ones and a personal character. Folk influences are felt, especially in the flute inserts, and in some passages with traditional instruments. Overall an engaging album from start to finish and a good, pleasant listening, flowing with ideas developed and performed with good technique by all the artists involved.

Tracklist

01. Chlodswinda 6:12
02. Gioconna 3:49
03. Dame Harvillers 5:10
04. Janet Boyman 3:32
05. Franchetta Borelli 6:25
06. Polissena 4:41
07. Donna Prudentia 5:27
08. Nadira5:30
09. Rebecca Lemp6:02

Lineup

Jerry Cutillo / All Instruments & Lead Vocals

With:
Jonathan Noyce / Bass (Tracks 1-3,5-9)
David Jackson / Saxophone (Track 7)
Daniele Fuligni / Grand Piano (Track 3)
Tetyana Shyshnyak / Soprano & Backing Vocals (Tracks 2-9)
Cristiana De Bonis / Vocalisms & Backing Vocals (Tracks 8-9)
Gerlinde Roth / Spoken Word (Track 9)
Marta Perozzi / Backing Vocals (Track 1)
Eclisse di Luna / Backing Vocals (Track 9)

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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