Legendary Punk Poet and CRASS Founder Penny Rimbaud Channels Namesake on New Album, Arthur Rimbaud In Verdun
Visual Companion to “Part Six” Available Now
Arthur Rimbaud In Verdun Out November 20 via One Little Independent Records
Penny Rimbaud, the legendary punk poet, writer, painter, multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of seminal anarchist outfit CRASS, has revealed the visual accompaniment to the track “Part Six” from his upcoming album, Arthur Rimbaud In Verdun, out November 20 via One Little Independent Records.
Watch the video for “Part Six” now at https://youtu.be/tsdE3Eben4s.
Taking influence from the sounds of John Coltrane and the visuals of painter Jackson Pollock, Penny ventured into the unknown with his idol and namesake to create a fascinating, high-concept album and gripping tale of death and romance. The fiction constructed by Penny places the 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud at the historic and tragic battle of Verdun in 1916 as Penny explores the possibilities of the young vagabond and his perception of such drastic events through a series of poems set to music.
“Arthur Rimbaud died of cancer in 1891, whereas the Battle of Verdun was fought in 1916,” Penny explains. “So, while Rimbaud at some time or other might have visited the city of Verdun, he most certainly wasn’t around to fight in its defense. Those who did, suffered 162,440 deaths, give or take a few hundred. It was the bloodiest battle of WWI and the longest in the long history or warfare.”
“Then how, you might ask, did Arthur happen to find himself in the mud and blood of the trenches? Truth is, I landed him there because I was fascinated to know just how this greatest of French poets might cope against the enormities of war. I wondered what lessons would be learnt which could then be conveyed to a planet still so obsessed with conflict, grief and suffering.”
Dark and vivid jazz-infused ambience is punctured by Penny’s spoken word lyricism, painting pictures of the chaotic experience of World War I. Maniacally delivered readings are ruthless in their detailed realism, not only well researched but so convincingly told it’s easy to forget it’s a narrative. Exceptionally realized, brutal at times and incredibly poignant in others, Arthur Rimbaud In Verdun is unlike anything else in subject or sound.
“Lost as to quite where to begin, I borrowed the ears of John Coltrane and the eyes of Jackson Pollock and ventured into a living hell with Arthur by my side,” Penny contemplates. “I guess, not surprisingly, it had taken little persuasion to muster his support in this venture. He was a natural; willing to die that he might better live. I can see him now, his wiry form darting amongst the shadows, kicking aside the rats, ever on the alert and defying sleep as if sleep was our greatest enemy. Continually on the lookout, I wondered what it was that he wanted from all this. When asked, his terse reply was ‘more.’”
Penny is joined by a host of revered saxophonists that helped him to complete his vision: Evan Parker, recognized worldwide as one of jazz’s most respected players; Ingrid Laubrock, now a resident in New York and fast becoming a major voice as a highly inventive freeform player and as a composer; and finally, Louise Elliott, who stands as an outsider, having come to jazz through the sensitivities of classical training mixed with punk and all its raucous sense of attack. The three players together make for a staggering display of sax pyrotechnics matching Penny's multidimensional poetry and dramatic approach to performance.
About Penny Rimbaud
In 1977, alongside Steve Ignorant, Penny Rimbaud co-founded seminal anarchist punk band CRASS, who disbanded in 1984. Up until 2000, he devoted himself almost entirely to writing, returning to the public platform in 2001 as a performance poet working alongside a wide variety of jazz musicians. In 2003, together with CRASS vocalist Eve Libertine, he founded what was at first known as The Crass Collective, then The Crass Agenda, then The Last Amendment and finally L’Académie des Vanités – a loose collective of jazz musicians, artists and filmmakers who shared Rimbaud's lifelong interest in progressive, improvisational art. Rimbaud, a veteran of avant-garde performance art groups such as EXIT and Ceres Confusion, not only co-founded Stonehenge Free Festival, but he also founded and, along with Gee Vaucher, to this day runs the legendary anarchist/pacifist open house Dial House in Essex, England.
About Arthur Rimbaud
Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was a French poet known for his influence on modern literature, particularly surrealism. He produced the bulk of his literary output during adolescence and young adulthood and stopped writing at the age of 20. Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and a restless soul, having engaged in a hectic, at-times-violent romantic relationship with fellow poet Paul Verlaine, which lasted nearly two years. After he stopped writing, he travelled extensively on three continents as a merchant and explorer, until his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday.
Penny Rimbaud – Text & Voice
Evan Parker – Tenor Sax
Louise Elliott – Tenor Sax
Ingrid Laubrock – Tenor Sax
Paul ‘PDub’ Walton – Recording Engineer
Alex Gordon – Mastering Engineer
Penny Rimbaud – Production Design credits:
Eve Libertine – Artwork
Alice Smith – Digitisation
Bracket Press – Design
PENNY RIMBAUD online: