Amazonian Shaman Soundtrack Stephan Crasneanscki's New Ayahuasca Documentary
Enchanting tribal songs lead Canadian anthropologist Jeremy Narby and French filmmaker and Soundwalk founder Stephan Crasneanscki through the psychedelic ayahuasca experience, in this clip from Ayahuasqueros: Recordings from the Amazon, Peru. Famously sought out by beat writer William S. Burroughs as a miracle cure for his opiate addiction, ayahausca is a hallucinogenic plant brew containing DMT used by Amazonian shaman in their tribal ceremonies since at least the sixteenth century. On their psychoactive trips, shamans claim to see and hear the essences of plants and animals as melodies called “icaros,” and learn the songs to give them the knowledge and power of the jungle. Setting off from Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, Narby and Crasneanscki traveled by boat up the Amazon, joining shamans in their ritual inebriations, and later combining collected footage and field recordings with world-renowned expert Narby’s radio essay on the ayahuasca experience for their documentary. “People are increasingly dissatisfied with the modern world and ayahuasca is a kind of counterpoint,” suggests Narby of the intoxicant’s increasing prevalence in Western pop culture—evidenced by the availability of package tours to visit the Amazon and take it first hand. “It’s seen as an embodiment of nature, of everything that the modern world isn’t and as a way of reconnecting with your body.” Here Narby and Crasneanscki expound.Crasneanscki: Ayahuasqueros was the idea of going up the river of the Amazon, deeper and deeper into the forest… I’m a newcomer. I arrived here because Radio France asked me to embark on a project about poetry—poetry in its active form, not a dead poetry. I thought that the icaros, the songs of the ayahuasca ceremony, were a form of poetry, a poetry that’s alive and has a function in society today.