On May 31st, Patti Smith will appear on Peyote Dance, an album with the experimental musicians of the Soundwalk Collective. The New York-based group are known for making new art out of “found sounds” – everything from antenna effects to old classical recordings. The new album will include “Ivry,” a new song with lyrics written by Smith that pay tribute to the French poet Antonin Artaud, who died in 1948.
The Soundwalk Collective wrote it with instruments that included Mexican Tarahumara guitars from the valley where Artaud wrote 1947’s The Peyote Dance, where the poet describes his experiences on the drug in Mexico a decade earlier – and a transcendental experience that followed. The musicians of the Soundwalk Collective traveled to the cave where the poet lived and gathered stones, sand, leaves and instruments to “awaken the landscape’s sleeping memories.”
“Taking peyote in those regions, you have the feeling that everything is communicating with you as it was for Artaud – nothing has changed,” said Stéphan Crasneanscki, the founder of Soundwalk Collective. “On an atomic level, there is no separation between you and any other organism: trees, leaves, flowers, but also stones and sand. There is no duality. Everything is embedded, everything has a soul, and the soul is timeless. We are not alone. These sonic spaces are pre-existing to us and will exist after us, to be able to listen to them is an act of presence.” Smith then listened to and improvised over their tracks: “For a moment,” she said, “one is Artaud.” The video includes footage of the poet’s legendary performance in the Passion of Joan of Arc, along with the last images of him in his chair.
The Peyote Dance is the first of three albums to be released by the British indie label Bella Union which will take inspiration from three French poets: Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud and René Daumal.