Although I’ve been listening to In A Wild Deep’s A Small Collection of Folk Tales EP since November, I still find myself with brain freeze every time one of the six songs shuffles to the top of my iPod. Which for me, is kind of weird. I may not be able to remember my own phone number but once I’ve heard a band, it’s permanently imprinted in my brain. Thus, the paradox of being intrigued enough to want to know who’s singing the song — while repeatedly forgetting who sang the damn thing — has me a bit stumped.
Part of my problem may be the complex stew of different styles and influences in the music. The opening bars of “Before the Desert Night Was Cold” are reminiscent of Jim White’s Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Later on in the album I hear Animal Collective-like textures and a banjo that sounds like it could be from a Sufjan Steven’s album. Despite the multiple comparisons, there’s something very original going on here, especially in the complexity of the arrangements and song structures.
A Small Collection of Folk Tales is based on a book of stories that was handed down to singer-songwriter Black Reed by his grandfather. On the In A Wild Deep Bandcamp site, Reed says, “…I can only hope this music lets you feel a little bit of the way I felt reading them over and over again.” While the production never lets the lyrics and stories come through in a clear way, there’s a very distinctive atmosphere that gets created here… one that is a bit dark but also gentle and compelling. Consequently, the EP makes a perfect backdrop to the grey days of winter and reminds me a bit of the Icelandic band Slowblow with its layers of strange ambient sounds.
A Small Collection of Folk Tales passes in less than 25 minutes. Since I often find myself wanting more, I usually resort to listening to the EP more than once. What would be really nice, however, is a full In A Wild Deep album. The news section of their website is rather sparse so it’s hard to say what they have in store for 2012 but with great songs, vocals and arrangements, In A Wild Deep is definitely a band to keep an eye on.