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Marble Index [180 gm vinyl]
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180 gram audiophile vinyl / Featuring John Cale
About the Artist
'The Marble Index' is the second studio album by German musician Nico. She initially became famous as a Warhol Superstar in the 60s. Nico is known for both her vocal collaboration on the Velvet Underground's debut album, 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' (1967) and her work as a solo artist from the late 60s through the 80s. Originally released in 1969, 'The Marble Index' was produced by Frazier Mohawk. Critic Simon Reynolds described the album as 'one of the most harrowing and death-ﬁxated albums in rock history'. The album was written by Nico and features musical arrangements by John Cale, who had worked briefly with Nico during her collaboration with The Velvet Underground. The music of the album was a new style for Nico, distancing herself from Rock and Pop. The album also unveiled Nico's songwriting, as her debut solo album 'Chelsea Girl' featured none of her compositions. The Music On Vinyl reissue of this critically acclaimed and influential album is pressed on 180 gram audiophile vinyl.
Top Customer Reviews
For completists: the versions of "Roses in the Snow" and "Nibelungen" are different on this disc from the ones on the "The Frozen Borderline". "Nibelungen" is particularly different, as here it is a short a capella version and on "The Frozen Borderline" it is longer and has instrumental backing. The version here is gorgeous but it also available on the "Classic Years" compilation and at the end of the "Nico: Dance Music" CD by John Cale and Ice Nine.
This is Nico's true debut album and while Chelsea Girl has a place in my collection, it is terribly ditzy in comparison to the deep, evocative trilogy of albums that would follow it. Each of these is thematically linked through Nico's trademark, thick, androgynous, germanic vocals and her beautiful harmonioum which when combined (even without Cale's instrumentation) calls on an ancient time and civilisation long lost in ruins. That is the feeling I get when I listen to The Marble Index, which is Nico's most acarne feeling album. In fact it is so arcane that it is almost out of time itself and still sounds as fresh and unique since it was first recorded.
Most of the songs use Nico's harmonium with extra flourishes of instrumentation by John Cale, to conjour all kinds of images into the reader. I always think of a deserted fairground when I hear Lawns of Dawns, a pleasent enough opener, though probably the weakest song on the album (Prelude notwithstanding) and when it comes to the final track, Evening Of Light, where the guitars, Cale's screeching viola and Nico's etheral vocals bring up visions of a desolate city lost in some fantastical battles. Much of Nico's songs have a dream-like quality and this is without a doubt Nico's most psychedelic album and probably one of the most effective in that category ever made.Read more ›
The tinkly melody of "Prelude" leads up to the haunting chant of "Lawns of Dawns" and the string-led grandeur of "No One Is There." Things take a stumble with "Ari's Song," which is backed by painful whistling. But Nico got back on track with the majestic "Julius Caesar (Memento Hodie)," the frosty "Frozen Warnings," and the scintillating "Evening of Light." Two previously unreleased tracks finish it off: the melancholy "Roses in the Snow" and the a capella "Nibelungen."
Musically, Nico is best known for her work in the Velvet Underground. But after she left that band, she took on a different type of music -- not as controversial, smoother and darker, with a heavy and distinctly Germanic flavor. It could have easily been depressing, but instead it's moody and hypnotic.
Strings and harmonium form the core of this album, and it gives a vaguely medieval feel to the album -- imagine Nico playing inside a darkened cathedral. And her writing is almost as good, evocative and poetic. "Midnight winds are landing at the end of time/In the morning of my winter/When my eyes are still asleep..."
Nico's vocals are still unique to this day. Her vocals are heavily accented and sort of thick, and there isn't a lot of vocal variation either. But her voice sounds strangely rich and vibrant, especially when she sings the more heartfelt lines like "No one is there!" Her voice is especially striking in "Nibelungen," where the music is gone and she simply sings, with long pauses between verses.
The tragedies and sadness of Nico's life seep out of "The Marble Index," a gloriously dark and spellbinding collection of music. Wintry, polished, gothic, and a magnificent creation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can't remember the first time I heard her voice,but it was many years ago,and when I heard it again I had to have this.The velvet tones of the underground.Published on 3 May 2013 by greyghost
I love this album. Yes it's dark in places but Nico manages to pull you a little way into her world. There is something slighty mysterious and magical about this album. Read morePublished on 20 Aug. 2012 by Mr. J. J. Saifurrahman
This is not just any album containing ten songs, this is something unique and very different from any mainstream kind of album. It has to be seen as a work of art. Read morePublished on 29 Sept. 2011 by Felix Satanis
Meaning this has until now been the ultimate Marmite of all rock albums-you are either addicted to it or detest it. Read morePublished on 14 Dec. 2007 by The BlackFerret
This album often gets a reputaion as being hard to listen to. I didnt find it that hard. Its not totally tuneless and its not the most avant gard thing i've heard. Read morePublished on 13 May 2005
The other reviews here all give the impression that this is a very unapproachable album that will take time to grow on you. Read morePublished on 11 Nov. 2004 by Rod Parkes
If you're expecting 'Chelsea Girl' forget it.This is European Avant Garde minimalism at it's best. A wonderful LP. Read morePublished on 2 Oct. 2004