For those unfamiliar, Smallman are a Bulgarian, four-piece band that create a musical puzzle of different genres on the edges of ambient rock. For this deep EP, Inner Oceans, they've brought in electronics artist Ivan Shopov to further their musical exploration and strengthen their sense of the mystic within.
Mystical atmosphere is easy for these guys. Their EP begins with serene ambience and minimal drums that sound as if played by a tribesman in the distance. Shopov’s drum programming appears soon after and could be jarring to some, but it's blended so well with the tender guitar melodies plucked and picked throughout first song ‘A Drop’, that the juxtaposition gives this venture the sense of a mind taking on reflection and overcoming deep contemplation. It sets you off as things mean to continue througout.
Cvetan Hadzhiyski’s low and airy vocals meander over the songs like a meditating shaman, leading you through an internal struggle. His lyrics have been inspired and lifted from 13th century Persian poet, Rumi; another sign of the immense effort to cohere the existential feelings that the music conjures up.
The songs aren't of a traditional structure of verses and choruses, but also avoid the cliches of regular, lengthy post rock. More so, they breath in and out between the likes of mystical female backing vocals and heavier, angular guitars. Every bit of harmony is pleasing; light guitar, slow and pulsing bass lines and minimal rolling drums. They never make a habit of repeating themselves. Shopov’s sampling in the background and industrial-like drums on the track ‘Underneath’ will keep you spinning the EP again and again, always finding and feeling something new too.
Most bands would be lucky to reach the depths set by these two acts in a full career, let alone one EP. Dive deep into this one. It’s hugely rewarding.
Inner Oceans is out now through Bandcamp and definitely reccomended for fans of bands such as SubRosa, The Ocean & Bossk