Album review: Index for Working Musik – Dragging The Needlework For The Kids at Uphole

Words by Lady Godiva

Based in London but symbolically originated in Barcelona, Index For Working Musik is Max Oscarnold and Nathalie Bruno‘s (from Drift) prodigal brainchild. Dragging The Needlework For The Kids at Uphole is the title of this triumphant debut on Tough Love Records. A convoluted name that allows different interpretations, ominous at first but one gets a deeper grasp of it as the album unfolds, navigating between an apocalyptic land where the living are no more and a more colorful canvas of moods. 

Coming across the Index For Working Musik spectrum is like stepping into an alcove in an old manor that’s surrounded by haze and fog. It shields you from the rest of the world, warding off bad luck whilst whispering many confessions in your ear. This is how the opener “Wagner” lures and gets the listener hooked. It sets the bar high, releasing dark and sinuous oscillations and gradually explodes in ample and venomous larsen effect. 

Sensually hushed, secretive and intimate, “Railroad Bulls” restores the calm after the initial storm and “Athletes of Exile” blesses you with its narrative and makes you part and parcel of it, which is something Max Oscarnold, a founding member of the band, is accustomed to as well in his other band The Proper Ornaments. A knack for complex emotions layered in velvet melodies.

Speaking of velvet, Index For working Music is texturally steeped in the early atmosphere of the Velvet Underground, which fully comes to light with “Ambiguous Fauna”‘s  lush and abrasive guitars and its vocal rhythm and harmonies. Even the lyrics are a (half) veiled reference to the iconic New York City band. Hey, hey, “set me free…”  The band’s spiritual abode also evokes John Cale solo or in the same vein, Kevin Ayers, Nico, Cale and Brian Eno‘s momentous collaboration circa 1974.

The mysterious “Isis Beatles” covers its tracks, oozing more oriental vibes which are a pivoting moment on the record while “Chains”, echoing the spirit of “Ambiguous Fauna”, displays its arsenal of signature guitars. “Palangana” brings a more suave ambiance and a refreshing novelty as it’s sung in spanish, Max Oscarnold’s first language. His vocal range is delightful, low pitched and soft, yet very manly. The fog seems to dissipate during that number, which lets the light in. “1871” swings back and forth, like a pendulum, between dream and reality and “Habanita” ends the album on a surprisingly low-key and soothing note. 

This record is a rough diamond, born in darkness and chaos, that voluptuously reveals more of its luminescence and whose charm resides in blurring the boundaries between material and imaginary worlds. It remains enigmatic and possesses a true edge and arousing aura that is fairly uncommon these days and brings us back to the raw and carnal roots of rock. 

To be enjoyed at maximum volume and without moderation! 

Released 17th February on tough Love Records


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