SOUNDWALK COLLECTIVE with Patti Smith
THE PEYOTE DANCE
Featuring Patti Smith and Gael García Bernal
Available via Bella Union
The Peyote Dance focuses on a brief part of Artaud’s life, when he travelled to Mexico City in early 1936 to deliver a series of lectures at the University of Mexico on topics including Surrealism, Marxism and theatre. In the summer, he travelled by train towards the Chihuahua region, and saddled by horse to the Tarahumara mountains with the help of a mestizo guide, which the album’s opening track, recited by Gael Garcia Bernal, evokes.
Artaud was drawn to the story of the Rarámuri: Native Indian people who live in the Norogachi region of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, the Sierra Tarahumara. One of Artaud’sgoals was to find a peyote shaman who could heal him; allowing him to recover from an opioid addiction. During his stay, encountering the Rarámuri Indians and peyote shamans of Tarahumara, and engaging in ceremonies, Artaud had a transcendental experience which resulted in the book The Peyote Dance.
For the eponymous album, Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith revisited writings from the book, and others texts written after Artaud’s return to France, where he remained in a mental asylum in Rodez undergoing electric shock therapy. During this dark period, the encounter with the Rarámuri stayed with him as his last significant, happy experience. The penultimate track on the album is a poem written by Patti Smith in homage to Artaud’s last hours in Ivry.
The album’s sonic method originates in the idea of retracing Artaud’s steps and returning to the village and cave where he lived. Gathering stones, sand, leaves, and many instruments such as violins and drums that the Rarámuri made themselves, the artists were able to awaken the landscape’s sleeping memories and uncover the space’s sonic grammar. Hearing the wind blowing through the valley, or entering a cave, one will find a specific silence or resonance.
“Taking peyote in those regions, you have the feeling that everything is communicating with you as it was for Artaud – nothing has changed,” says Stéphan Crasneanscki, the founder of Soundwalk Collective who travelled to the Sierra Tarahumara to record on-site. “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.”Listening, reading and improvising to the tracks in the New York studio allowed Smith to channel Artaud’s spirit. “The poets enter the bloodstream, they enter the cells. For a moment, one is Artaud,” Smith says of becoming a conduit for the poet to speak through her, echoing the raw energy of the early punk scene. “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.” The energy of his last poems reverberates and cannot be silenced, Smith says of The Peyote Dance. “We understand that this work and the artist are not dead, they find life in recording them.” The enduring power of Artaud’s text lies in its uncomfortable nature: 80 years after it has been written, it remains a disturbing, raw, explosive and trance-like chronicle of what it is to be alive.
Artistic direction and Realisation: Stephan Crasneanscki with Patti Smith
All music produced by Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith in Mexico City and NYC
in collaboration with Leonardo Heiblum and Nicolas Becker
with original instruments from the Rarámuri Indians of the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico
All texts written by Antonin Artaud – except Ivry, written by Patti Smith, copyright / © (2019) (Patti Smith)
All texts performed by Patti Smith, except
Una Nota Sobre El Peyote featuring the special participation of Gael García Bernal
Basalówala Aminá Ralámuli Paísila featuring the special participation of Martin Chávez Ramírez “Makawi”
Music by Soundwalk Collective, in collaboration with Leonardo Heiblum, Nicolas Becker, Joel Cruz Castellanos and Martin Chávez Ramírez “Makawi”
Soundwalk Collective: field recording
Patti Smith: voice
Leonardo Heiblum: chapareke, traditional drum, bells, cocoons, raspa, Rarámuri flute
Nicolas Becker: additional field recording, foley, e-bow
Martin Chávez Ramírez “Makawi”: Rarámuri voice, sonajas, cocoons, traditional drum, traditional guitar, raspa, rocks
Clorinda Palma Bustillos “Sewa”: howling, humming
Joel Cruz Castellanos: traditional guitar, traditional violin, foot stomping
Jacobo Lieberman: traditional drum
Line producer: Paul Hance, with the kind support of Ana Paula Pintado and Franziska Stenglin
Recorded at Audioflot Studios in Mexico City and Hobo Sound in New Jersey
Studio assistant: Eduardo VC, Atzin Bravo
Post Production at Electric Lady Studios in New York
Mix and additional production: Russell Elevado at Electric Garden in New York
Mastering by Noel Summerville, London
Special thanks: Gael García Bernal, Jesse Paris Smith, Tony Shanahan, Damián Romero, María González de León, Lee Foster, Beatriz Artola, Ben Kane, Sohichiro Matsumoto, Robert Morgan-Males, Audio-Technica, Alexis Ruiz, Jacobo Lieberman, Matías Cella
Patti Smith appears courtesy of Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
® All rights reserved
Front Cover & Labels: artwork by Patti Smith
Rock Drawings: Stephan Crasneanscki
With the kind support of The Analogue Foundation