The Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith: The Perfect Vision Trilogy

Of the books I kept, some of the most sacred are those by Arthur Rimbaud, Antonin Artaud, and René Daumal. The Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith have released a trio of albums dedicated to each, as if they were reading my mind’s eye, under the title The Perfect Vision.

Peradam draws its inspiration from Rene Daumal’s novel Mount Analog: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing

Following recordings in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico and Harar, Ethiopia for their albums devoted to Artaud and Rimbaud, Soundwalk Collective (Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli) traveled to Nanda Devi in the Himalayas, Rishikesh, Varanasi and Kingdom of Lo (Upper Mustang) to channel Daumal’s metaphysical quest in physical sound. “And through our physical travels,” says Crasneanscki, “we discovered the most humble objects of meaning that carry the spirit of what he searched for and found. It can be as simple as a stone, which can inhabit a power almost like a talisman.”

The Peyote Dance is inspired by Antonin Artaud’s book of the same name which details his travels to Mexico in 1936 to visit the Tarahumara Indians and take part in a peyote ritual

Entitled The Perfect Vision, this musical triptych, which has been co-produced with Leonardo Heiblum and supported by the Analogue Foundation, aims to go beyond 20/20 vision and explore a dimension that exists on a non-physical plane. What one can physically see is only the beginning – this project transcends what we think we see, by multiplying experiences, languages and energies. “We went through places like Mexico, Ethiopia and India to search for a perfect vision, in spaces where you can still feel a sacred presence – where the Gods are still among you,” says Crasneanscki. “In this idea of perfect vision, there is the idea of oneness, and with that comes a sense of supreme love.”

Mummer Love took Arthur Rimbaud’s self-imposed exile in Harrar, Ethiopia as its source of inspiration. Rimbaud’s works are still influential including Une saison en enfer (A Season In Hell), the only work Rimbaud was to publish himself, which was written at the age of 19. He gave up writing one year later.

If you are at all familiar with these writers, you know that each, in their own way, pushed against boundaries in search of a transformative experience. On each record in The Perfect Vision Trilogy, field recordings from the places of inspiration are used along with music, chants, and the spoken word to celebrate these writers and channel their vision in sound.

part of my Barn hommage to Artaud and Rimbaud

The Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith, along with a number of guests including Tenzin Choegyal, Anoushka Shankar, and Charlotte Gainsbourg on Peradam, and Mulatu Astatke and Phillip Glass (featuring the first performance of Glass and Smith) on Mummer Love have gone to great lengths, traveling the globe, to bring us this music which is meant to channel the spiritual and philosophical energies and work of earlier seekers.

Did they succeed? Of course that’s the wrong question to ask.

More information is available from Soundwalk Collective as well as a limited edition 2 LP version of Peradam on 140g Sky Blue Vinyl that includes a print signed by Patti Smith (Did I buy it? That’s a silly question ;-).

a cherished copy of A Season In Hell featuring 8 photogravures by Robert Mapplethorpe
one of those Mapplethorpe photogravures, a self-portrait with horns (by all accounts, Rimbaud was a thorny character)
my Portrait of Rimbaud (oil on linen c.1990), who his lover and fellow poet Paul Verlaine called “…an angel in exile,” hangs in the Barn