With The Peyote Dance, Patti Smith joins experimental sound outfit Soundwalk Collective in a work in tribute of French poet Antonin Artaud. Soundwalk Collective’s founder Stéphan Crasneanscki traveled to the Norogachi municipality of Mexico’s Sierra Tarahumara (otherwise known as the Copper Canyon), where Artaud himself traveled in 1936—curious to know whether a peyote shaman from the Rarámuri people could free him of an opioid addiction. Soundwalk Collective recorded in both the village and cave where Artaud lived, capturing sounds earthly and human, delicate and divine.
Smith then joined them in studio, back in New York. For lyrics, she drew upon Artaud’s writing—from The Peyote Dance about his transcendental experiences to later works written as a patient receiving electro-shock in France. However, the penultimate track, “Ivry,” features a poem penned by Smith herself. Gracefully, she weaves words around Artaud’s last hours in the Paris suburb, Ivry-sur-Seine. The track carries the weight of the album’s highs and lows as it pairs a depiction of frailty and decline with exquisite details of rebirth.
Soundwalk Collective first worked with Patti Smith on Killer Road in 2016. The Peyote Dance is the first of a three-album exploration called The Perfect Vision. The next two albums will explore the work of Rimbaud and René Daumal respectively.
Images courtesy of Bella Union