This is more of a sound collage than an actual album. That is not to say it is without beauty, or devoid of music. In fact, the music on this album is stunningly beautiful. It features guests Philip Glass, Mulatu Astatke, and the Sufi Group of Sheikh Ibrahim. Much of the music is African-influenced as it is based on Rimbaud’s period in Africa. On Mummer Love, Soundwalk Collective does an incredible job of marrying all forms, styles, and genres together. In doing so, a unique atmosphere is created.
Mummer Love is full of space and sounds. Opening with “Aw Abadir”, the tone of the album is set. An incredible use of vocals, it is inspirational and prepares the listener for the journey ahead – a journey into Africa and also into Rimbaud. From there the album flows, but never in a conventional manner.
Glass contributes some wonderful, textured soundscapes over which Smith reads the Rimbaud poem, “Eternity”. When Glass works with Sufi Group of Sheikh Ibrahim it is unearthly. Smith contributes only one poem on this album, the title track “Mummer Love”, which was written for Rimbaud. Smith’s presence throughout the album is remarkable, but her writing is on a whole other level. A work of genius, it is one of her best works and shows that she is as original and vibrant now as she was 40 years ago.
More than a conventional album, this is a listening experience. One should turn off the lights, put on the vinyl, lay back, and enjoy.At times the layers of sound can be somewhat scary and disturbing, and at others, very relaxing. The poetry is stunning and fits the sounds being produced by the talented musicians. Mummer Love is a work of art.