Smith and the band are honouring the German musician, Velvet Underground collaborator and Andy Warhol superstar with tracks that lift some of her most powerful poetry. The title track, “Killer Road” features Smith reciting poetry on a four-and-a-half-minute long track, set to eerie, ambient sounds. Smith’s daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, and the Berlin/New York-based trio Soundwalk Collective provide backing music on the song.
“The killer road is waiting for you,” Smith slowly whispers on the track. “Like a finger, pointing in the night…who's to blame?” She asks. “I have come to die with you.”
Nico died after collapsing while cycling in Ibiza in 1988. This tribute to the star was first performed by the group two years ago at Crossing the Line festival at the French Institute Alliance Française, and toured with the collective and their songs. Only now are the nine tracks getting a proper release, and each track includes samples of Nico’s harmonium, as well as her original poetry.
Both Nico and Smith praised each other at some point in their huge careers. Speaking of Smith, Nico said: “She was a female Leonard Cohen when she moved from writing to singing, and I liked her because she was thin and strong.” The pair struck up a friendship through their mutual friend, Andy Warhol.
In Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story, Nico remembered when Smith bought back her stolen harmonium from a shop in New York. “I said, 'I'll give you back the money when I get it,' but she insisted the organ was a present... I cried.”
The entire album is expected to be released by Bella Union (in the UK) and Sacred Bones (US) on September 2 2016.
Follow Anna Cafolla on Twitter here @annacafolla