Chill the Belt Sundays – Smoke City – Underwater Love

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Another reminiscence of my childhood listening. As I’ve mentioned before, my mother was a pinnacle in defining my music taste when it comes to electronics and being a baby of the 90s, a british baby of the 90s at that, my ears were awash with The Best of Chillout compilations and what follows is another of many gems that built up the fabric of my early years in music.

Because I’m posting about them I figured I’d do a bit of research on the band, Smoke City, who, to my surprise (But also not surprise, it’s Trip-Hop afterall.) are actually an English band, despite what vocalist Nina Miranda would have you believe with her deceptively… “foreign”? accent. In my childhood brain and up until now I’d always assumed they were French, or at least the singer was French. Though to be fair I’m only told that the band is English, that’s not to say that the lead singer isn’t French, it’s not to say that I won’t continue to imagine a French girl behind the wheels of the Smoke City band-wagon.

What do you reckon?

The start of the track I never heard properly through and through until today as, of course, it was part of a mixed compilation, but those first initial “underwatery” bloops and bleeps, those drums that I always imagined to be of a more Jamaican origin, it all built a weird deep purple, smoke on the water atmosphere. (This really isn’t a Deep Purple Smoke on the Water reference, you know when ink or paint is spilled in water? That awesome imagery. That’s what I’m talking about… in a deep, dark, purple water.) I imagined a (French) woman adrift in this water, draped in some sort of long linen dress, gracefully swishing about like a sort of deep, purpley, ink-water mermaid lady. Such a sexy description, I know. But you get my vibe on this one, I would have been around five or six when I was thinking this stuff up initially so sexuality didn’t come into it, just imagery.

The band, I believe, like many other Trip-Hop collectives of the time, like many other musicians and bands of history altogether, had this one big hit and then faded into nothing more than the memory of lad re-visiting his Chillout youth. Though that’s not to say that the one big hit was not a fantastic one and that their sound wasn’t obscurely unique, an English band possibly imitating a French vocal style drawing in influences from Jazz, Hip-Hop, Samba, Bossa-Nova, Reggae… that’s pretty wild and the end result was clearly a poignant mark in the history of Trip-Hop.

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I’ve now just discovered that it was blessed with some wicked remixes as well, David Morales had his fair share of edits and remixes including a Club version, Reprise and Samba-Soul type mix but also incredible members of the 90s Drum & Bass evolution; Voyager and Aphrodite. Apologies for the quality of the Voyager vid, if you can listen past the high end whistle of poor quality recordings then you’ll hear a beautiful track.

Josh

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