In the spring of 2020, poet Anne Waldman will release her latest tour-de-force, Sciamachy: a 180-gram vinyl album on her New York label, Fast Speaking Music. Supported by Levy Gorvy Gallery, the album’s cover features artwork by the legendary painter Pat Steir. Derived from Greek, sciamachy means shadow war. The album has a formidable political message, dealing with subjects such as ecological ruin and war-mongering. Sciamachy is music for psychic defense.
In keeping with Waldman’s life-long ethos of cross-disciplinary collaboration, Sciamachy features Laurie Anderson on electric violin, Deb Googe (of My Bloody Valentine and Primal Scream) on baritone bass, free jazz legend William Parker on n’goni, Guro Moe and Hävard Skaset (of the Norweigan hardcore group MoE) on electric bass and guitar, Waldman’s son Ambrose Bye on synthesizer, and her nephew Devin Brahja Waldman on saxophone, drums and production.
Anne Waldman—poet, performer, professor, editor, literary curator, cultural activist—is the author of over 50 books. Growing up in the counter-cultural mecca of downtown Manhattan in the ’50s and ’60s, she went on to co-found the Poetry Project in New York’s East Village, booking poetry readings for luminaries such as William Burroughs, Cecil Taylor, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Eileen Myles, and countless others.
In 1974 she co-founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics with Allen Ginsberg in Boulder, Colorado; and in 1975 she toured with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. In the decades following, Waldman went on to headline poetry festivals throughout five continents, receive numerous awards such as The Guggenheim Fellowship, and teach thousands of poetry students all over the world.
Sciamachy finds Anne at the height of her luminary power, and further solidifies her position as cult literary hero for multiple generations. The music of Sciamachy mirrors the shadow-fighting intent: Waldman’s voice undulates between void lit ambiance and doom metal-inspired bass lines, reminiscent of Sleep’s iconic “Dragonaut.” Freaked out rock motifs find the sunrise avant-jazz groove at the end of the world. Oceanic electronic ripples and whispering dirges. Her words lead you to primeval worlds within future worlds. Waldman asks, “What is the occult to a machine?” Shakes off control with the fiery gravitas of a triple Aries, encapsulated in a voice equal parts grit and Zen. Later, she exclaims: “All writing decides a galaxy. All writing resounds planispheric history. All writing is in fact cut-ups. History will decide your heat of the world. Oral consciousness of stars. She wanted the streets of the world to spin rubrics. No tanks of the blown-off world. Reconstitute polis. Ban exclusion of women. Oh women of the world.”
This album is dedicated to Pat Steir for the breadth and depth of her work. In loving memory of Vanessa Bley.
“Exquisitely potent, a psychic shield for our times.” — Patti Smith
“Poet, musicians, artists, eternal lovers, we now meet to reanimate the word/world. That shadow vibration, free-gender energy, it is the warrior adepts. Anne Waldman has the microphone, the bird call, the caw caw caw, the force of nature. Sciamachy is her sonic lamp n’ sword raised high. Occupy the future!” —Thurston Moore
“This is astonishing— an incantation, a ritual dance, an ensorcellment, an ekstasis. It’s one of the most powerful things poet Anne Waldman has ever done, and the music is mesmerizing." —Jonathan Cott, Author of “Listening”: Interviews 1970-1989.