Patti Smith and Soundwalk Collective’s wonderfully rendered audio-visual production Killer Road is drawn from the final poems of Nico, iconic vocalist with the seminal ’70s US group Velvet Underground, which were written shortly before her death.
A hypnotic meditation on life and death, it combines texts with an immersive soundscape and music in an attempt to make sense of her tragic demise.
Mercifully, the texts aren’t about Nico as socialite in the Andy Warhol factory, a debutant adrift in an era of disillusionment.
The focus is on her perception of relationships, symbolised through natural forces and the elements, skewed time, transmutation and transgression. Eventually, she said, there was nothing more to sing about.
Performed with total immersion in each and every dot and line of the verse and seemingly transported to some transcendental special place by the persona of the author, Smith brings Nico’s words of angst back to life.
The effect is frequently overwhelming and the projected visuals complement the sonic electronic shards produced by Soundwalk Collective — Steven Crasneanscki, Siomone Merli Kamran Sadeghi — and Smith’s daughter Jesse.
Those desired and loved by Nico go unnamed but still shamed, whereas the meaning behind what Amazons, a dragonfly, a strangler, being seven in heaven and a having a son might have meant for the poet intrigues and begs for further interpretation from Smith and co.