Like Yoko, Nico was a mononymic alien blessed with a Marmite voice and an avant-garde aesthetic. Her sultry presence on the first Velvet Underground album helped temper the band's fearsome sonic barrage, but when she teamed up again with John Cale for her second album, The Marble Index - here reissued alongside the follow-up, Desertshore, with copious outtakes from both - they made something still utterly sui generis. Cale's parts were improvised and edited together later, his viola, celesta, guitar and glockenspiel layering multi-faceted, often atonal arrangements over the haunting drone of Nico's harmonium, while her Germanic intonation evoked the sense of restless solitude in songs such as "Frozen Warnings", "No One Is There" and "Facing the Wind". The title came from Wordsworth's line about a sculpture evoking "the marble index of a mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone", which summarises the sense of lonely exploration involved in creating and listening to the album.
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