Camera Obscura (album)

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Camera Obscura
Studio album by Nico and The Faction
Released 1985
Recorded March–April 1985
The Strongroom, London
Genre Experimental, art rock
Label Beggars Banquet
Producer John Cale
Nico chronology
Do or Die: Nico in Europe
(1982)
Camera Obscura
(1985)
Behind the Iron Curtain
(1985)

Camera Obscura is an experimental avant-garde music album recorded and released by Nico in 1985. It was produced by John Cale, marking their first studio collaboration since The End in 1974. It was Nico's final studio album before her death three years later.

Sound[edit]

Nico's vocal style is somewhat different from her prior records, with some songs bearing similarities to Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard. The jazz standard "My Funny Valentine", by contrast, has a more standard legato vocal style, despite her very deep contralto. Many of the tracks offer a refined version of the new wave gothic rock of her previous album Drama of Exile. The album is dedicated to her then-manager, Alan Wise.

Sonically, the album follows on from Drama of Exile in that Nico's core songs are given full band arrangements. Whereas Drama of Exile carried a strong North African influence and exotic, new wave-inspired instrumentation, Camera Obscura makes use of synthesizers.

Songs[edit]

The album's oldest composition, "König," was originally recorded for Desertshore and re-recorded some fifteen years later for Camera Obscura. A version was included in the Philippe Garrel film La Cicatrice Intérieure (1972). John Cale reportedly wanted to produce the song with a more percussive, synth-based arrangement in keeping with the rest of the material, but Nico insisted it should be kept as a solo harmonium piece.

Another early song re-imagined for the recording sessions was "Tananore", which Nico had performed at a Cale concert in Marseille on April 12, 1975, and kept in her set ever since. Nico had incorporated "My Funny Valentine" into her set since February 1982, and previously at her earliest live performances (at the Blue Angel nightclub in New York City). "My Heart Is Empty" and "Fearfully in Danger," meanwhile, had been set mainstays since her Library Theatre appearance in Manchester on June 16, 1983.

Nico performed songs from Camera Obscura up until her death, although there are no known performances of the opening instrumental "Camera Obscura" or the song "Into the Arena".

A music video was filmed for "My Heart Is Empty" at the Fridge in Brixton.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Nico except where noted. All arrangements by The Faction.

Side one

  1. "Camera Obscura" – 3:42 (Nico, John Cale, James Young, Graham Dids)
  2. "Tananore" – 4:24
  3. "Win a Few" – 6:10
  4. "My Funny Valentine" – 3:23 (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
  5. "Das Lied vom einsamen Mädchen" – 5:40 (Robert Gilbert, Werner Richard Heymann)

Side two

  1. "Fearfully in Danger" – 7:26
  2. "My Heart Is Empty" – 4:37
  3. "Into the Arena" – 4:12
  4. "König" – 4:08

Personnel[edit]

  • Nico: voice – harmonium
  • The Faction
    • James Young – keyboards
    • Graham "Dids" Dowdall – percussion
  • John Cale – vocals on "Camera Obscura"
  • Ian Carr – trumpet on "My Funny Valentine", "Into the Arena"
  • Dave Young – engineer

References[edit]

External links[edit]