Posts Tagged ‘Nico’

Alternative music legend Chris Connelly has announced he will be releasing a long-player paying tribute to the iconic Nico. Originally planned as 10 tracks featuring Connelly’s versions of her songs, once recorded, he decided to write a parallel album of his own compositions, spanning the life of one of the most unique, tragic and misunderstood female artists in the history of music. The result is the 24-track Eulogy to Christa: A Tribute to the Music & Mystique of Nico, to be released in late autumn.

Ahead of this, the Chicago-based Scottish counter-culture artist presents the album’s first single ‘Eulogy to Lenny Bruce’, heralded by some as Connelly’s finest vocal performance. Appearing on Nico’s 1967 album Chelsea Girl, this song was penned by the tragic Tim Hardin about the equally tragic Lenny Bruce with the lyrics slightly altered, Nico describing her sorrow and anger at Bruce’s death.

Listen to ‘Eulogy to Lenny Bruce’ here:

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Connelly once again worked with producer and long-time Connelly collaborator Chris Bruce, a band member of Meshell Ndegeocello, who has also worked with Seal, Aaron Neville, Bob Dylan, The Waterboys, My Brightest Diamond, Cheryl Crow and Sam Phillips.

Eulogy to Christa sees Connelly purposefully adopting the personas of Nico, Lou Reed and John Cale – even Andy Warhol makes a cameo!

Connelly speaks of these early influences: “I was not a stranger to her music, I had been playing The Velvet Underground & Nico to death for about a year, but knew nothing of her solo work until Cosey Fanni Tutti played me ‘Desertshore’ whilst I was visiting her in London in the summer of 1980… Nico’s output was spartan, at that age, I didn’t know why, but I was drawn in deep to the myth, as well as the myth of Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground and the concentric rings of influence in their wake, like so many musicians.”

The album was inspired by the brilliant book You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone by author Jennifer Otter Bickerdicke, who contributed to the liner notes for the album. She writes, “This is a record to be played at full blast, all the way through, as a commemoration not just to Nico the person, the musician, but to art for art’s sake, for making something because it is important and needs to be done – an idea that is as rare and precious as Nico herself.”

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Klanggalerie – 18th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s no questioning Eric Random’s pedigree, having begun his musical career with The Tiller Boys with Pete Shelley and Francis Cookso before becoming part of the post-punk and experimental milieus of both Manchester and Sheffield, recording his first solo works at Cabaret Voltaire’s studio, and later fronting Nico’s band until her death in 1988. But while many artists dine out on their former glories – and it’s true that since the majority fail to scale to any great heights, a brimming resumé is something to celebrate, there’s equally a certain truth in the belief you’re only as good as your latest work.

No-Go is his fourth album since his return in 2014 following a lengthy time out. Pitched as a step further into an electronic dance direction, and inviting comparisons to Wrangler and Kraftwerk, No-Go is brimming with 80s stylisations, and all the 808 and Akai snare cracks and robotix vocals you could imagine are crammed into these eleven tracks.

A jittery stammer runs through the entirety of the opener, ‘Synergy’, while all over, multiple other synth sounds swipe and bleep over the ultra-retro groove, and all over, Random recaptures not just the sound of the late 70s and early 80s scene in which he was so deeply immersed in, but also the feel of the period. It’s easy to forget just how vibrant the energised spirit of newness was around that time, with the rapidly evolving – and ever-cheaper – technology opening new doors to seemingly infinite possibilities. This was music that sounded like the future in every sense, and while a lot of it may sound dated now, the fact there appears to have been some kind of revival or renaissance under way for the best part of the last 30 years speaks volumes. Of course, where Random differs from the oceans of retro revivalists is that he’s not attempting to reconstruct a fantasy version of a bygone era: he was there, at the cutting edge, doing precisely this.

‘Compulsion’ is a bleak wheezy cut with tinny marching drums and vocal that are oddly reminiscent of early New Order in their flat, distanced delivery. It’d Depeche Mode that spring to mind in the opening bars of the buoyant yet bleak ‘Is the Sun Up’, but then

‘Sinuous Seduction’ leaps out on account of the sample of William S. Burroughs narrating a segment of Naked Lunch, and while one of the numerous passages about giant black centipedes may not be revelatory or even particularly inventive, it does serve as a reminder of Burroughs’ vast influence on music, in particular acts like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, who swiftly recognised the analogy between the cut-up and the sample, something Burroughs himself had initiated with the experiments he conducted with tape in the late 1950s and early 1960s with Ian Sommerville. But then, equally, there’s just something about Burroughs’ creaking, dry-as-sticks monotone that is just unbelievably cool, and also sends a unique shover down the spine, distinctive to the point of being immediately recognisable, and also really not of this world, that detached, flat intonation about stuff that’s plain weird is perfectly suited to the music of the early years of the electronic age. The track itself is sparse, monotonous, robotic, and while it’s as much an example of doomy Eurodisco in the vein of The Sisterhood’s Gift, it’s not a million miles away from The Pet Shop Boys circa Disco – and that’s by no means a criticism.

Sandwiched between this and the blustery hard-edged disco of ‘No Show’, the ‘It’s come again’ offers some welcome respite with its more loungy leanings. Things get lively to the point of dizzying with the last few tracks, which are uptempo an mega-layered with bewilderingly busy arrangements, and it’s a tense climax to an album that shudders and judders, bubbles, foams, and fizzes with electronic energy.

In going back to his roots, Random has really hit the zone and delivered some old-school stompers in the process.

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