In 1970, German vocalist Christa Paeffgen (a.k.a. Nico, Andy Warhol’s muse and The Velvet Underground’s chanteuse) released DESERTSHORE, her masterpiece and one of the Twentieth Century works of Art. The album is produced by John Cale and is more melodic and less sour than the previous THE MARBLE INDEX (1968). It opens with the invocation of the Janitor of Lunacy, mystical figure between our world and the “desertshore”: partly Wagnerian witch, partly goddess at the foot of her abbey, Nico brands her sibylline prophecies on dead leaves and lets them fly with the wind, while music flows relentlessly as magma. Her hieratic singing is perpetually enshrouded by the sound of viola and harmonium, and makes the entire album something that goes beyond the musical territories, turning grief into holy. All traces are important and make a great mirror of the soul: from the omens of The Falconer, to Afraid’s touching beauty, to the eerie atmospheres of Le Petit Chevalier, Abschied’s grandeur, the folly of Mutterlein and All That Is My Own and so on. DESERTSHORE foreran the darkest mood of new wave music and genres like gothic-rock, and because of this it’s just groundbreaking, a landmark in all music history. In 2007 Warner Music released an amazing remastered 2cd set, including THE MARBLE INDEX as well.
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