Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith collaborate on poetic project The Perfect Vision - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Soundwalk Collective photo by Vanina Sorrenti | Patti Smith photo by Jesse Paris Smith

Patti Smith‘s newest project sees her diving deep into spoken word poetry as she explores the work of influential French poets in collaboration with Soundwork Collective. For The Perfect Vision, a triptych of albums, Smith and Soundwork Collective, an experimental sound outfit led by Stephan Crasneanscki and Simone Merli, have teamed up to record their own interpretations of the poets’ work. Smith and Soundwork first worked together on the album Killer Road in 2016.

The Perfect Vision focuses on the work of 18th and 19th century French poets Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud and René Daumal and their lives of travel. Each poet’s travels informed their work with new perspectives, and by revisiting their works, Smith and Soundwork Collective are retracing their steps to experience what they would have seen, heard and felt. According to a press release, “the central idea is that each landscape holds sleeping memories that are the witness of human passage.”

The first album is titled The Peyote Dance in honor of Artaud’s book of the same name; released in 1936 it detailed his experiences with the Rarámuri, an indigenous Mexican people. The Peyote Dance will be released May 31, and the first track, “The New Revelations Of Being,” is out now, on the anniversary of Artaud’s death.

Soundwork recorded their portion of The Peyote Dance on location in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico, using authentic Rarámuri instruments to capture sound as Artaud would have heard it. They then brought their instrumental recordings back to New York for Smith, who recorded vocals using Artaud’s writing as reference. Smith says, “The poets enter the bloodstream, they enter the cells. For a moment, one is Artaud. You can’t ask for it, you can’t buy it, you can’t take drugs for it to be authentic. It just has to happen, you have to be chosen as well as choose.”

Listen to “The New Revelations Of Being” below. Patti Smith and her band play The Met on April 29; find more information on the XPN Concert Calendar.

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