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the coral sea 2008

The Guardian: "Recorded over two nights at the Royal Festival Hall in 2005 and 2006, The Coral Sea is Patti Smith's eulogy to her great friend, Robert Mapplethorpe, who took the famous photo that adorned her Horses album; he died of Aids-related complications in 1989. Smith tells the story of Mapplethorpe's mythical voyage to see the stars of the Southern Cross before he dies. Her words have the fire and focus of her greatest work as she struggles with the bitter truth that such a breathtaking talent could be so cruelly extinguished. Kevin Shields has recently been boosting demand for earplugs with his My Bloody Valentine live shows, but here he is perfectly restrained, supplying sounds and textures to a gripping, if demanding, two-hour listen. When the sounds suddenly stop, the silence yields to Smith's dazzling language and the power of enduring platonic love."

Popdose: "The Coral Sea, a two-disc set released on the artists’ own PASK label, is a record of those two monumental performances. The concerts featured Smith reading her work, accompanied by Shields on guitars and effects. It is unlike anything that I have ever heard.

Art, not nature moved him
Nature, he had boasted, was meant to be redesigned
Opened and folded like a fan

The poem tells the story of Mapplethorpe, referred to variously as the sleeper, the traveller, or simply, ‘M’, as he makes his heroic journey to the next world."

The Independent: "Kevin Shields' first sustained original work since My Bloody Valentine's last record, 1991's Loveless, is entirely in the service of Patti Smith's long poem in memory of her early lover, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of Aids.

On two hour-long readings of that work at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2005 and 2006, Shields precisely modulates feedback, and lets low, long, vibrating notes swell to some sort of climax. Both CDs sound as if they were recorded deep in the hold of the symbolic, mist-shrouded ship where Smith casts her poem's hero."

Paste Magazine: "The mere premise of punk priestess Patti Smith and My Bloody Valentine’s erratic genius Kevin Shields collaborating is itself electrifying, and the fact that it captures a raw corner of Smith’s psyche urges closer inspection. Conceived as a eulogy to close friend Robert Mapplethorpe and imagining the inner space of his final voyage to see the Southern Cross, The Coral Sea is a giant Smith poem punctuated by Shields’ soundscapes. While the long and occasionally overwrought exposition is not for everyone, the intensity and untangled abandon of Smith’s performances will galvanize more loyal fans seeking yet another cathartic acid bath in her emotional storms."

Detour-mag: "It’s revealing, otherworldly, hopeful, and often harrowing listening to Smith describe the life journey of her friend and fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. She can be cryptic, but also lucid and incredibly pointed. And as powerful as her words are, as effortlessly as she projects the spirit of her subject, The Coral Sea is also highly listenable, a true collaboration between two artists it’s philosophically and perhaps legally impossible to fuck with. Top of game, both."

As reviewed by Uncut magazine: "...It strikes me immediately that this is the best record that Patti Smith has been involved in since 1996's "Gone Again" (--) The Coral Sea" showcases Smith the poet, privileging Rimbaud rather than Dylan or Keith, reading her epic elegy for Robert Mapplethorpe in that stern, declamatory style that has given her best records such romantic gravity. Of course, you may find Smith in this mode, unrelentingly, for an hour at a time, something of a stretch. And sure, there are some weaker, over-wrought passages - understandable, I guess, in such a lengthy piece. But for anyone who's ever been seduced by the fierce, noble rhythm of her voice, "The Coral Sea" is compelling, not least because her resolve and focus gels so gracefully with Shields' innately vague, impressionistic musical approach."

Glide Publishing (April 25th 2008): "Patti Smith and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields are set to release a double-disc set of their live performance of The Coral Sea on July 11, 2008 on their own PASK imprint. The Coral Sea is Patti Smith's posthumous homage to her friend and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the title to her 1996 book. Kevin Shields accompanies her on guitars and effects and creates a haunting backdrop to the spoken prose. The recordings were made June 22nd 2005 and September 12th, 2006 respectively at sold-out performances at the QEH in London. The set will run almost two-hours with a different stylistic approach to each performance. The UK's Guardian upon reviewing the 2005 performance gave it 5 stars and called it "magical."

One critic said of the live performance: A kind of screaming requiem, The Coral Sea describes Mapplethorpe's terminal illness. Intense, layered electronics surged to a discordant climax as Patti Smith read her poem, the words sailing over the noise like an ocean liner, with the black-and-white video showing the ocean, the liner and the grey twilight of grief. The poem tells the story of M (Mapplethorpe) on a final voyage to see the stars of the Southern Cross before he dies. Long-rumored to be released on CD, this first official issuing of these live recordings have been curated with care by both Patti Smith and Kevin Shields. Whether the duo will reprise this performance in the future is still unknown."


The Coral Sea
Label: PASK / IODA
Released on July 7th 2008

The Coral Sea: Performance I, Part One (Live on June 22, 2005)
The Coral Sea: Performance I, Part Two (June 22nd, 2005)
The Coral Sea: Performance I, Part Three (June 22nd, 2005)
The Coral Sea: Performance I, Part Four (June 22nd 2005)
The Coral Sea: Performance I, Part Five (June 22nd, 2005)
The Coral Sea: Performance I, Part Six (June 22nd, 2005)

The Coral Sea: Performance II, Part One (September 12th, 2006)
The Coral Sea: Performance II, Part Two (September 12th, 2006)
The Coral Sea: Performance II, Part Three (September 12th, 2006)
The Coral Sea: Performance II, Part Four (September 12th, 2006)



The Coral Sea