Posted by: standing_baba | May 25, 2010

Bike Music: Smoke City

You could interchange ‘rainy day music’ or ‘fall-in-love-again music’ or even ‘happy-to-be-alive music’ with the title of this post. In line with my Brazilian themed-posts of late, I wanted to make the world (at least the small percentage of it that considers bike tours cool) aware that there is a British-Brazilian band that can change whatever mood you’re feeling into blue waves breaking on your mind’s most perfect tropical beach—that just one of many get-aways Nina Miranda’s voice has provoked during difficult stretches on my bike.

The band Smoke City does that—they transport you to a better place, be it to that innocent kiss that preceded your love-haunted present, to a past lover’s embrace without the complicated strings of reality attached, to a warmer sense of belonging than the cold strangeness that surrounds you, or maybe just from a general pain to a general pain-free.

Smoke City’s music is like a drug that dissolves the present. I’ve found this particularly true on steep mountain climbs that make even sunny days seem hopelessly bleak. (Dramatic statement disclaimer: hard bike days can cause goodbye flashbacks, anxieties about the future, and what-does-it-all-mean meditations). The underlining sadness in Nina’s voice becomes your pain “flying away,” a personal metaphor I’ve attached to the same named album that gained the band a cult following and made a loyal listener out of this sappy blogger. By each track’s end you feel lighter, liberated, healthier, like you danced all night without a drop of alcohol.

As with all the groups I recommend on this blog Smoke City is different. They are uniquely Smoke City—no one else sounds like them. Their approach to music is international, fusing French, English, and Portuguese in songs that are as linguistically undecided as they are stylistically undefined. Bossa nova, trip-hop, electronica, samba, and jazz blend in a European-Latin lounge that just sounds right, not forced like so many bands & DJs that end up in a Global Chill Out purgatory as anonymously rotating background music in coffee bars.

For reasons unknown Smoke City disbanded. Though Flying Away has been on my iPod for years, I’ve only recently discovered the band members’ new group, Zeep. A future recommendation/review may be in order.


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