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Low Culture Podcast: Nico’s The Marble Index

In this month’s Low Culture podcast, John and Luke go deep into the bleak midwinter of Nico’s masterpiece, The Marble Index.

Nico's The Marble Index occupies an odd place in her discography. Those just encountering her solo work for the first time could be forgiven for imagining that after her 1967, breezy folk pop debut, Chelsea Girl, Nico would have recorded The End before moving onto the more song-based Desertshore and then finally making her grand avant garde statement The Marble Index. But no, this unique album which sounds like "Judy Collins with frostbite", was recorded and released just 13 months after her debut. 

For years the LP was dismissed as too grim and difficult a listen – not least by the record's lead producer, who couldn't get through more than 30 minutes of it when sequencing the tracks – but more recently it has become regarded as something of a lost classic. We ask the perennial question: what makes music difficult, and is The Marble Index really as hard to listen to as received wisdom would have you believe. The atmosphere of this record, John and Luke will admit, is complex and elusive, its affect often shifting depending on the listener's frame of mind, although there is one thing that never shifts: a heaviness that sits somewhere close in spiritual terms, to Coil or the opiated doom of Earth. 

Also in this first Low Culture podcast of 2023 we discuss recent reading and advise you to cope with the trials of winter with a condensation hoover.

Thanks to Alannah Chance for producing this podcast and to all of you for subscribing to keep tQ alive.

To listen to tQ's Low Culture podcast, you'll need to be a tQ Low Culture or Sound & Vision subscriber

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