Nico – The Frozen Borderline: 1968-1970

“Four decades after its release, Nico’s first solo album Chelsea Girls remains her most famous. Its bittersweet folk-pop has continually grown in stature, even hitting a pop culture peak a few years ago when ‘These Days’ showed up repeatedly in commercials and films. Less well-known is how much Nico despised the album. The lithe melodies (written by ex-boyfriends Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, and Lou Reed, among others) and ornate string arrangements struck an irresistible contrast to her chilly vocals. But to Nico they were the antithesis of her own artistic core. Her next two albums, 1969’s The Marble Index and 1970’s Desertshore, are more accurate representations of her dark, dramatic vision. They may not have achieved the renown of Chelsea Girls, but they’ve held up just as well, if not better, artistically. The Frozen Borderline: 1968-1970 is a UK-only deluxe combination of both albums, appending 18 alternate versions to the pair’s original 16 songs. After Chelsea Girls, apparently on the suggestion of Leonard Cohen, Nico took up the harmonium, an accordion sibling that’s usually foot-operated. But Nico played a portable, hand-operated Indian version, and the instrument’s droning tone was an apt counterpart to her obliquely tragic songs. Spending four days in an Elektra studio in L.A., she recorded 12 pieces with John Cale, who wrapped a rich pastiche of viola, piano, guitar, and more around Nico’s harmonium and vocals. … There is certainly an underlying bleakness that can make The Marble Index a strenuous listen. But Nico’s melodies are so hypnotic, and Cale’s sonics are so fertile and unpredictable, that it’s hard not to be entranced by these songs. Sure, Nico’s cryptic lyrics about ‘the end of time,’ ‘the heaving sea,’ and ‘frozen warnings’ sound grim, but her Teutonic croon could’ve made commercial jingles seem foreboding. For every sad line or aching refrain, there’s the touching beauty of ‘Ari’s Song’, the rising viola of the pristine ‘Frozen Warnings’, the pulsating piano of ‘Facing The Wind’. The Marble Index may seem to strike only one note, but inside it Nico and Cale found a universe of possibilities. …”
allmusic (Audio)
W – The Frozen Borderline – 1968–1970
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: The Frozen Borderline: 1968-1970 34 videos

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