Review Summary: Nico further exploring Darkness...
Desertshore and The Marble Index were some of the best moments of Nico's musical career and maybe the eeriest in the history of modern rock music.
Although a short album, Desertshore was memorable with its skeletal hauntings and a capella song "Le Petit Chevalier", sang by Nico's son. The Velvet Underground member became known for her affinity with the art world, further resulting in an avant-garde approach to music.
Nico furthers her exploration with The End...(the title comes from The Doors' apocalyptic opus of desert doom), adopting a more stable composition on the course of a record full yet again of eerie songs, with a little help from John Cale on harmonium and Brian Eno on synthesizer.
"You forgot to answer" channels a windy and atmospheric vibe, with main themes as anxiety and longing. Nico is in need for the remembrance of contact with a missing person, a person "not listening". This person is Jim Morisson, her ex-lover, and she just found out about his death on the telephone. You can feel the longing for stability, for confidence on one self’s feet, the anxiety and fear coming from the death of a friend.
In comparison to The Marble Index, this record somehow manages to cast a warmer light. The End... is falling under the category of a more nostalgia-oriented album, where the aforementioned Marble Index was a cold album par excellence. The End... comes up as being about that one time when one could be happy on his own, invariable of outside factors and solely meeting the world with freshness.
In "Valley of the Kings" the repeating sound of the harmonium sustains Nico's voice with powerful resonance. With lyrical themes as loneliness, history, place in nature, mental stability/instability and an unique call for the uncanny, Nico became one of the earliest manifestations of gothic rock and metal (as known today) in music. Her presence can be felt in the compositions of Siouxsie Sioux, Chelsea Wolfe and modern day doom metal bands.
The strength of the album lies in repetition, which has the main use in song structure, like the mantra incantations in "We've got the Gold", or the powerful "Innocent and Vain"(one of the best songs here). When Jim Morisson's "The End" comes, it comes as an elegy for Jim and a reminder of Nico's place in L.A. She's offering a gloomier version of The Doors song. Morisson's lyrical themes and storytelling suit Nico beautifully, also like the psychedelic vibe and the lonely desert ambient. We come back to Germany for the final track, the old hymn of the country (Deutschlandlied). It's a reminder of Nico's origin and of Nazi occupation.
The End... falls in place as one of Nico's more compositionally stable records. This is the last part of Nico's best timeline, eerie, nostalgic and full of tricks that managed to influence so many sounds to come. Coming as a follow-up to the strange Desertshore and legendary Mable Index, The End... is offering certainty over sheer darkness, with main themes as memory, origin and presence in the natural world.