My Bloody Valentine mastermind Kevin Shields and punk priestess Patti Smith undress for their collaborative CD, The Coral Sea. Shields breaks free from his studio fixations, which typically find him laboring over things such as the color of microphone filters; Smith bares her soul like she's never done before. Culled from two live performances in London in 2005 and 2006, The Coral Sea is Smith's tribute to friend and collaborator Robert Mapplethorpe. As she reads a poem she penned for the late photographer (who shot the striking cover of Smith's debut, Horses), Smith's incantatory lines recall her early spoken-word opuses. Possessed by emotion, she bleakly details Mapplethorpe's battle with AIDS. Meanwhile, Shields remains fascinated by the concept of sound, shifting moods, and changing textures; his guitar and effects run the gamut from eye-glazingly hypnotic to knifelike stark. At times, his sonic flourishes transform already visceral moments into something profoundly personal. It's like eavesdropping on the private wake of somebody you don't know and watching as friends and family passionately lament the departed.
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