Soundwalk Collective have released a new track with Patti Smith from their upcoming collaborative album, Peradam, due out on September 4 via Bella Union. Smith is joined by Anoushka Shankar on sitar for “Knowledge Of The Self,” with Stephan Crasneanscki directing and Anastasia Ivanova editing the accompanying music video.
Smith speaks over the sitar and chiming bells, her smooth voice delivering poetry amid the zen track. Black and white images display ringing bells, incense and small flames, flowing water over flowers and teapots pouring. “Breath of breath/ And sight of sight/ Hearing of hearing/ Thought of thought/ Those who know it have discerned the word/ Ancient, original/ Go,” Smith breathes, her voice transforming into a meditative tone. The entire track carries a calming energy, forcing listeners to look inside themselves.
“Into deeper darkness go/ Those content with knowing,” Smith says, explaining that the way to enlightenment is to face disturbing truths. Her voice deepens when discussing the hard truths of learning who one is, switching to a faint breath as she urges, “go,” the single word repeating through the track and spurring one to continue searching. “Into a blind darkness, go/ Those dedicated to non-knowing/ Into a deeper darkness, go/ Those content with knowing” she says, her words swirling around in the air and taking on a hypnotic tone, forcing listeners to choose a path to take.
“We have to, in order to be free of all the things that we are attached to, even the ideas of ourselves, or masks that we put on our Band-Aid’s upon our transgressions, in order to achieve this freedom, we have to peel away everything, every defense we have, every defense that we put up for ourselves,” Smith said in a press statement. “I think that Daumal is directing us to do this but in a benevolent way, although there is no way to protect anyone from the pain of enlightenment, you have to grope about it, and you have to strip down.”
Soundwalk Collective and Smith’s Peradam is inspired from René Daumal’s 1940s novel Mount Analogue: a Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing. Daumal’s novel explores ideas of metaphysical journeys, enlightenment and symbolic mountains, with Daumal coining the idea of the “peradam,” a rare crystal holding profound truths. Soundwalk Collective and Smith call the album “the final stone” of their recent collaborative albums, which include The Peyote Dance, an album devoted to Antonin Artaud and Mummer Love, an album dedicated to Arthur Rimbaud.
Earlier this year, Smith closed out the Tibet House Benefit at Carnegie Hall in New York. Her long-time collaborator and guitarist, Ivan Král, passed away this past February. Smith also performed on The Tonight Show earlier this year, playing a cover of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.” Prior to their collaborative albums with Smith, Soundwalk Collective had released the album Killer Road with Smith’s daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, with Patti Smith also featuring on the album.