Soundwalk Collective

"Killer Road"

(Bella Union); Electronic

By ​Phil ​Bennett

The Soundwalk Collective consists of a trio of artists known for travelling far and wide to source their sound installations and recordings and this latest venture takes them to Ibiza and the company of Jesse Paris Smith and her mother, the fiery poet and singer/songwriter, Patti Smith.

Killer Road is a mesmeric meditation on the death and life of Warholian superstar, Nico, who died of a brain haemorrhage subsequent to a bicycle accident on a windy, mountainous stretch of road in Ibiza in 1988.

With ambient field recordings providing the sonic backdrop – crickets, bees, grasses blowing – and further colouration provided by studio treatment and electronic drones, the sounds shimmer and sparkle like coruscating shards of reflected light, creating an atmosphere of unease and disquiet.

This is certainly no easy listen – Nico’s poems are dark and filled with dread and Smith’s rendering is sonically subversive, ranging from sinister whispers to firm statements that dare you to question – but it is a journey that devours with its intensity.

And it’s Smith’s undeniable brilliance as a narrator that elevates this album to such an arresting experience.

The words seem to be coming from deep within and there’s a genuine honesty that comes from a deep understanding of the author.

There is a lovely connection between the two historically as Smith had discovered and purchased back Nico’s harmonium (which she had sold to raise much needed and easily spent cash), returning it to her as a gift to be later used on her final album, Camera Obscura.

Originally conceived as a live performance piece with matching visuals, the material recorded here is so penetrating it requires nothing but closed eyes and open ears to be overtaken by its potency.

A masterful elegy for one of the world’s more interesting and quite often misunderstood artists.

Chilling.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.