thu 24/09/2020

CD: Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith - Peradam | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith - Peradam

CD: Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith - Peradam

The third in a beguiling trilogy of immersive albums

Surrealist ascension: Patti Smith explores Rene Daumal

"The gateway to the invisible must be visible." So intones Patti Smith on the third and final journey in sound with Stephan Crasneanscki and Simone Merli, AKA Soundwalk Collective, musical psychogeographers and field recorders whose journey for this evocation of French spiritual-surrealist writer Rene Daumal’s posthumous 1952 cult classic Mount Analog took him to the peak of Nanda Dev

"The gateway to the invisible must be visible." So intones Patti Smith on the third and final journey in sound with Stephan Crasneanscki and Simone Merli, AKA Soundwalk Collective, musical psychogeographers and field recorders whose journey for this evocation of French spiritual-surrealist writer Rene Daumal’s posthumous 1952 cult classic Mount Analog took him to the peak of Nanda Devi in the Himalayas, the former Beatle hangout of Rishikesh, India’s "spiritual capital" of Varanasi, and Upper Mustang, once known as the Kingdom of Lo, which only admitted its first foreign visitors in 1992.

Peradam is Daumal’s image for enlightenment, in the form of a “rare crystalline stone harbouring profound truths that is only visible to seekers on a true spiritual path”. Though I cannot tell you what a true spiritual path is, or where it is to be found, Patti Smith may be your liminal guide. Peradam opens with the enveloping roar of Himalayan winds recorded on the slopes of Nanda Devi, the voice of Crasneanscki’s Sherpa, Dhan Singh Rana, intoning through it before Smith performs excerpts from Daumal’s Gurdjieff-influenced texts and translations from the Sanksrit on the percussive title track. The following piece, "Knowledge of the Self", is draped in Anoushka Shankar’s sitar, while "Dawn in Rishikesh" is bird-drenched and "Spiritual Death" feels like the meat and marrow of the matter of this voyage into the psychogeography of Daumal. Tonally, it resembles Laurie Anderson’s recent Songs from the Bardo – and indeed features that album’s Tenzin Choegyal on voice, Tibetan drums, singing bowls, dranyen and damru.

While some may bridle at being told that “the place where you are is where you have to begin” (how’s that for spiritual SatNav?), the sound settings and Smith’s beguiling tone and voice transcend any sense of easy homily, delivering experiences rather than lessons. Peradam is drawn from epic travels in the world and in the spirit, and as attentive listeners we are drawn into that journey. As Smith herself says: “It’s just attempting to create a breathing body of work that keeps growing as you do it; it’s alive.” Her voice, woven with Charlotte Gainsbourg’s on the "The Four Cardinal Times" or alone against a writhing nest of analog drones on "Rat", her own poetic response to Daumal, is beautifully compelling. Peradam’s sound design itself is a kind of living ecosystem, and once drawn in, you’ll be a living part of that system too.

@CummingTim

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