Patti Smith and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields are set to release a double-disc set of their live performance of The Coral Sea on July 11, 2008 on their own PASK imprint. The Coral Sea is Patti Smith’s posthumous homage to her friend and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the title to her 1996 book. Kevin Shields accompanies her on guitars and effects and creates a haunting backdrop to the spoken prose.
The recordings were made June 22nd 2005 and September 12th, 2006 respectively at sold-out performances at the QEH in London. The set will run almost two-hours with a different stylistic approach to each performance. The UK’s Guardian upon reviewing the 2005 performance gave it 5 stars and called it "magical."
One critic said of the live performance: A kind of screaming requiem, The Coral Sea describes Mapplethorpe’s terminal illness. Intense, layered electronics surged to a discordant climax as Patti Smith read her poem, the words sailing over the noise like an ocean liner, with the black-and-white video showing the ocean, the liner and the grey twilight of grief. The poem tells the story of M (Mapplethorpe) on a final voyage to see the stars of the Southern Cross before he dies.
Long-rumored to be released on CD, this first official issuing of these live recordings have been curated with care by both Patti Smith and Kevin Shields. Whether the duo will reprise this performance in the future is still unknown.