The mythos of Nico is firmly ensconced within the fertile proto-punk world of the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, and even the Doors. She was an ethereal, darkly spectral presence whose Teutonic burr was both intriguing and alienating in its stentorian detachment. Over the course of a handful of solo albums following her auspicious debut as a pseudo-member of the Velvets, Nico set her enigmatic poetry to increasingly haunting and haunted soundscapes.
Nico was little more than an afterthought in the world of music when she died in Ibiza, Spain in 1988. Her performances on the Velvet Underground's debut album were all most music followers knew of her, and her solo works, never embraced by a large audience, were mostly out of print. Nico's final recordings testified to the toll drug abuse had taken upon her body and her muse, and when a bicycle accident claimed her on a sweltering July day, it attracted little notice.
Christa Päffgen—the singer, songwriter, actress, poet, model, and proto-goth icon known as Nico—died in 1988 on a grassy mountain road in Ibiza, on a bicycle ride into a nearby town to buy weed. After an accident, she died of a massive brain hemorrhage. It’s the type of event that spurs reflection on the nature of mortality. And now it has inspired a dense new work by New York and Berlin-based electronic group Soundwalk Collective, featuring vocals by Patti Smith, and found and self-constructed percussion from her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith.