The Smile found themselves, both literally and figuratively, playing a gorgeous Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.
According to producer Bob Boilen, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and Tom Skinner “arrived early, along with saxophonist Robert Stillman, to test out several tunes and figure out just what made sense behind my desk — minus the volume and effects that shape the album’s sonic landscape. For roughly 90 minutes, the Tiny Desk crew was treated to a casual rehearsal, witnessing the band’s creative companionship work itself out, settling on four songs.”
Not all made the final broadcast, with one of the songs falling victim to the band’s relentless perfectionism. “For keen eyes, you’ll see Thom Yorke being handed a guitar for the second tune but all of a sudden he’s playing bass while Jonny Greenwood’s bass is suddenly a guitar. They had recorded another tune before “The Smoke,” but it didn’t make the final cut; they weren’t happy with their performance.”
The results might leave you stunned, and not just because of Yorke’s choice of orange sunglasses and blue hat. The Smile played three songs — “Pana-vision,” “The Smoke,” and “Skrting On the Surface” — with an airy lightness that contrasts with their more tightly scripted 2022 album, A Light for Attracting Attention. Check out the set below.
Still want more The Smile? Last month, the band announced the live album The Smile at Montreux Jazz Festival, July 2022, which you can stream now.