I Saw the Deep and the album “Astronavigation” are the products of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Darrell Laclé. Born and raised in Aruba, but currently based in the Netherlands, Darrell wrote and recorded all the tracks on “Astronavigation” himself; he even did the album artwork. The band fills out to a power trio for shows, but Darrell also performs solo acoustic tours.
Inspired by mythology, the paranormal, classic sci-fi, as well as the ocean and its mysticism, I Saw the Deep delivers an engaging mix of metal and psychedelic prog. I know if I were reading this and someone said metal and psychedelic prog I would likely decide this album was not going to be for me, but let me tell you, I would be wrong. Labels like those are a weak way to describe the music on “Astronavigation”, because as it turns out, I thoroughly enjoy the music on this album.
The bio lists influences that include The Mars Volta, Tool, The Tea Party, Led Zeppelin and Mastodon. I am not much of a fan of The Mars Volta or Mastodon, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see The Tea Party mentioned. “Splendor Solis”, the second album from The Tea Party was an album that made a particularly powerful impression on me back in 1993, and I always felt like it never got the recognition it deserved. Listening to “Astronavigation” I feel I can hear The Tea Party influence in some of the style if not in the actual composition.
I Saw the Deep combines several styles into something that sounds like nothing else I have ever heard. I suppose the monster riffs might come from the Mastodon influence, but these riffs are so much cleaner and more listenable than anything I have heard from Mastodon. These riffs are gigantor-sized yet tight which helps keep a remarkably clean mix. The vocals range from clean to somewhat harsh, but mostly stay in clean-ish territory. Something about these songs also brings to mind old Alice in Chains music. So if you can hear in your mind something that mixes the heavy riffs of Mastodon, the trance-inducing vocals of Alice in Chains, the mysticism of The Tea Party and the psychedelic sensibilities of early Pink Floyd, you might be on the right track for describing I Saw the Deep. All of that combined in a tight sounding package that does not meander around aimlessly makes for a singularly entertaining listen for this reviewer. I am also hearing a little bit of Cobain angst in some of the harsh-edged vocals.
“Astronavigation” turned out to be a very pleasant surprise and one which I am glad to be able to share with everyone. I will definitely be coming back for repeat listens of this album, and I will eagerly wait to hear future recordings from Darrell Laclé and I Saw the Deep. Check out this video for the first track, “Phantom Island.”