Local band Oaks release “Field Beat”

Machines and the natural world collide on the noisy Minneapolis duo’s EP.

Jim Kolles, left, and Erica Krumm together make up Minneapolis band Oaks.

Image by Emily Dunker

Jim Kolles, left, and Erica Krumm together make up Minneapolis band Oaks.

by Joseph Kleinschmidt

After a storm knocked out electricity for more than half a million homes and businesses in the metro, Erica Krumm and Jim Kolles entered their cramped Minneapolis practice space to check the power.

The trees littered outside City Sound looked post-apocalyptic, but inside, Krumm embraced the damage. She outlined her lyrical obsessions for Oaks, her shoegaze band, with stark simplicity.

“Love and death and nature. That’s a good summary,” Krumm said. Even if her description sounds intensely somber on paper, the married duo’s latest EP, “Field Beat,” finds a wistful introspection amid a wall of sludge.

Bass lines from Kolles, awash in reverb, accompany Krumm’s lilting, distorted vocals. Kolles credits post-punk predecessors in guiding Oaks’ clash of industry and nature.

“A lot of those bands — Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain — it’s so stripped down,” Kolles said. “The bass lines are melodic and hit the right notes, but not very technical, which was a big guiding thing for us I think.”

Taking cues from his work in metal bands like Ganglion and Carnivore, Kolles gives Oaks a palpable heaviness. Since founding the band in 2010, the duo has relied on an organic spontaneity they attribute to their long-lasting relationship.

“We just can read each other when we’re writing,” Krumm said.

“We don’t ever talk about notes or anything — it really does just flow.”

“Feathers,” off of the duo’s first recording, was the group’s first collaboration to bear fruit; a revelation for the band, Krumm said.

 “We just kind of accidentally made this song that we both really love,” Krumm said.

Even though Krumm and Kolles held positions in other bands over the years, they find their new partnership most exciting. After hours of tinkering with sounds, the spare demo gave way to a slew of material.

“Field Beat” does damage through sheer minimalism — an “artificial as hell” drum machine guides the record. “Clouds” and “All Mine” work a dreamy spin of post-punk. Trying to dissect their roles in Oaks, the duo loses the words.

“We really write together, so I feel like we feed each other in a way that’s hard to separate,” Kolles said.

The most consistent member of the band remains the drum machine, a ticking clock that both represents a mock drummer and a chance to fill in the creative blanks. Through constricting themselves around the simple setup, Oaks forges an alley for variation.

Kolles describes the duo’s extended sessions in the practice space as a laid-back chance to find another natural Oaks song.

“We force ourselves into situations where you can stumble upon songs,” he said.


What: Oaks, Claire de Lune, Moonstone and Dream Weapon

Where: Cause Spirits & Soundbar, 3001 S. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis
When: 9 p.m., Thursday

Cost: $5

Age: 21+