The sound of winds making water flow and the soft thumping of elven feet emerges from the unclustering mist that lays thickly upon the Campine marshes. The new I Am Wolves EP manifests its brilliant qualities in album opener “October”, where this post-rock quintet take you on a journey into their communal hearts.
The home-recording of the previous “Espen” EP obviously wasn’t satisfying enough as I Am Wolves deliberately call this their debut EP. However, it is not the case that “Espen” was a bad effort. On the contrary, its three songs were excellently written and they still are a pleasure to hear when played live. I Am Wolves are a ravishing live-act and the production on “Espen” simply couldn’t match the splendor they are able to bring about from a stage. Hence, they have returned with their self-titled “debut” EP; three new songs recorded in a professional studio.
Right of the mark, my favourite song is “October”. The delicate guitars at the 3-minute mark and then that tempo change are so spot-on, I can’t believe my ears when I hear it. “I Move These Mountains” shows a more elegant side of the band; warm and tender-hearted, yet with that tinge of dissonance in the end that makes you shift in your seat. “Fratel” then ends the EP on a darker note, with guitars, violin and bass playing interesting and characteristic counterparts.
RELEASE DATE: 27 May 2014 LABEL: Independent
However, the musician that manages to leave the biggest mark on me when listening to this EP is drummer Pieter Wuyts. The way he grooves at the moment he kicks into each of the three songs just blows me away. His playing is also totally synchronized with the changing dynamics on the album, hitting hard when he needs to, yet without ever loosing his sense of elegance.
The guitars on “I Am Wolves”, handled by siblings Gwen and Grisha Verlinden, are at play with each other. At times they are clearly distinguishable, yet more often they blend in true harmony, while always remaining modest.
The same modesty can be found, perhaps in too great an amount, while listening to the playing of violinist Lisa Durnez. She handles the band’s changing dynamic fairly well, but she tends to be drowned out the moment the band opens up. This is a bit of a shame because at times she plays some things that are really pronounced and well-written. Bassist Jonas Schröder suffers from the same symptoms: he is one of the more creative bass players I’ve seen in a long while, but here it is his tone just lacks that extra grit that is needed to make him stand out.
The production on “I Am Wolves” is very honest; not a lot of tricks and effects to make them sound bigger, just five people playing together as equals. The EP sounds better through my little home stereo than it does through my headphones, but perhaps that’s just the extra reverb of the chamber that gives the music a glimpse of I Am Wolves’ excellent live performances. Apart from the previously mentioned flaws in the sound of bass and violin, I’m really excited about the mixing. Once the band launches into the heavier parts, the sonic palette widens a bit more and the whole song gains an extra piece of grandeur.
I Am Wolves have everything to make them a promising act made for grandeur. They have the musicianship and the songs, they have the magic that makes the band more than the sum of its parts. With this self-titled EP I Am Wolves have shown us three guest rooms inside their hearts, now I want to see the rest of the villa.