• Thu, Aug 6, 2020

Smalltalk Takes A Big Leap

Mar 18, 08:33pm

In the span of two years, Mumbai-based Smalltalk won Bandcubator, performed at venues across the country and released its debut EP 'Tacit', thus ensuring its biggest leap in the journey so far.

A few friends and an unsuspecting audience gathered at the now defunct SummerHouse Café in Lower Parel towards the end of June last year. A small gathering witnessed an emerging Mumbai-based act Smalltalk perform its original compositions revolving around a sound or substance that had not yet entirely incorporated itself in the mildly evolving live music culture. It was neither Smalltalk’s first gig n the biggest so far. The band had performed at now defunct BlueFrog just a block away from SummerHouse Café in 2016. The BlueFrog gig ended up creating the necessary buzz around the band and eventually secured its management responsibilities with Kranti Art Theory. The June 2017 gig concluded with the band earning a few praises and some additional ‘followers’ on social media outlets. With a handful of compositions, that was essentially the best outcome the four-piece act could hope for.


Six months later, the band re-emerged with exciting developments after a series of consistent outings, some that are usually reserved for the established experienced ones. A music festival in the North East, The Humming Tree in the South and the usual suspects in and around the Tier A regions, towards the end of the 2017, and precisely in March 2018, Smalltalk took a big leap.


Smalltalk prefers its sound to not become a subject to a ‘Guess The Genre’ game that several music publications and followers tend to screw up badly. And, their debut EP, ‘Tacit’ – seems to be an elaborate and effective effort – to explain the same. The four-track maiden studio effort is, on the audio front, an assemblage of everything that the members have consumed as musicians. Well, not everything per se. The EP begins with the lyrics “You don’t even notice”, and that perhaps seems to be like a cocky way to warn us of the several brilliant subtleties sprinkled across ‘Tacit’. But be it the guitar tones that remain consistently experimental throughout the EP or the unique outros that almost become interesting segues – but not intros (because that’s so 2016) to the following tracks – and positively end on a more progressive tempo than how the songs take shape during their intros.


The approach continues to the second track off the EP ‘What A Mess’, once again a composition that includes elements that have dominated the members’ personal music libraries. Neo-soul will not be an accurate term to define the entire EP, however the sound reappears from time to time only to be transitioned into an R&B vocal jam complemented by equally dynamic guitar strumming and the groovy basslines. (Yohann Countinho shines throughout the album and how!) For someone hitting the studio for the first time, an effort that acts as a formal introductory exercise, Smalltalk surely took an extremely important and mature decision with extensive backing vocals presence throughout ‘Tacit’.


Produced by another young Mumbai-based musician and drummer Jehangir Jehangir of the Cotton Press Studio (thanks to a competition they had won in April 2017), this EP draws parallel to another Cotton Press Studio executed album, the Chennai-based The F16s’ last album ‘Triggerpunkte’. As mature as it sounds, ‘Tacit’ is essentially nothing less than four musicians and their ongoing pursuit to test their own capabilities with their respective instruments. However, at no point throughout the EP, would one feel the deliberate attempt to flaunt one sound over another. As we reach to the concluding track off the EP, ‘Blindspots’, the realisation dawns upon us about how there’s a few more listens essential to understand the subtleties in the form of certain hook-lines or lyrical essence that the band had dropped throughout the 23-minute long celebration of Smalltalk’s grooviest engagement so far.


The band's biggest leap isn't even the release of 'Tacit', but it's the outcome of the same. Smalltalk has raised the bar for itself and the production qualities and the professional decisions involved in the creation of the same would lead to further enhancement on these factors. For any young band, that's a positive challenge to have. 


‘Tacit’ provides the much-needed peek into the artistic ideology that Smalltalk represents, as its previously released single ‘Shining’ couldn’t. Moreover, it provides the musicians much needed confidence to plan a few steps ahead. Such is the current level of confidence among the members that although the next logical step is to exhibit ‘Tacit’ during its upcoming launch tour with as efficiency and honesty as they can, the musicians have also began ideating, and perhaps recording, a full-fledged album.


The band begins its upcoming four-city tour with Mumbai on 25th March at Toit (a brewery that replaced BlueFrog – the venue where it all began for Smalltalk two years ago), followed by gigs in Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune in the following month.


Listen to 'Tacit' here:

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