BMG is releasing Popol Vuh’s vinyl deluxe box set Vol. 2 – Acoustic & Ambient Spheres on November 26th. A true gem for fans, this collector’s edition includes the albums Seligpreisung, Coeur de Verre, Agape-Agape and Cobra Verde, four important progressive rock and ambient works by the band from the 1970s and 1980s. Cobra Verde and Coeur de Verre are the original soundtracks of the Werner Herzog cinema-classics. All albums have been remastered and will be released on audiophile 180g vinyl with adapted original artworks, including a bonus track on each album. The box set comes with an insert with extensive liner notes and photos, completed by three picture prints, a collector’s film still poster from “Coeur de Verre” and the original movie poster from “Cobra Verde” (both in A3 format). Each album will also be available on CD with an extensive booklet. Following the highly acclaimed release of Popol Vuh’s The Essential Album Collection – Vol. 1 in 2019, Vol. 2 – Acoustic & Ambient Spheres marks a magnificent continuation of this special edition series.
“Call it Magic Music or Love Music, just what you’d like to: it’s music for the soul. That’s it”,Florian Fricke once said about the music of Popol Vuh. He did not want his music to be tied to any specific genre nor to be forced into a typology. “I keep on finding new styles and recurring patterns to merge into the music. But the essence always stays the same. Let me tell you one thing: Popol Vuh’s essence is a mass for the heart. It’s music about love. That’s all.”
And this is what makes Popol Vuh’s music so timeless and brilliant. “The most Important is to touch people, to awaken something inside them”, Florian Fricke said in a TV interview.
Popol Vuh, founded 1970 in Munich by Florian Fricke, is a pioneering band and Avantgarde in electronic music and progressive rock. Their versatile music has been influencing generations of musicians ever since and was a groundbreaking precursor for today´s ambient and trance music. Early on, Popol Vuh combined rock with electronic sounds, integrating ethno and world music elements and experimenting with synthesizers. Composer and keyboard visionary Florian Fricke created unparalleled soundscapes with the MOOG III, which influenced many contemporary electronic musicians. From the 1970s onwards, a long-lasting, profound collaboration with renowned director Werner Herzog, resulted in more than ten soundtracks. Florian Fricke wrote the soundtracks for Herzog’s most seminal movies, e.g. “Aguirre”, “Herz aus Glas”, “Nosferatu – The Vampyre”, “Fitzcarraldo” and “Cobra Verde”. These legendary soundtracks received several award nominations and made cinema-history. In 2001, Popol Vuh mastermind Florian Fricke passed away. British ambient musician Alex Patterson (The Orb) acknowledged the collective’s music as creative visionaries: “Before Brian Eno, there was Popol Vuh, a magical journey into the soul of heaven. Music for real music lovers. History never repeats sound like this.” Guitarist and songwriter Stephen Joseph Malkmus (Pavement) described their compositions as “unbelievably beautiful, unbelievably strange music”.
SELIGPREISUNG (1973) was the fourth album by Popol Vuh. Compared to their previous recordings, the hymn-like ‘Hosianna Mantra’ – a milestone record within their career – saw Popol Vuh taking the next step with ‘Seligpreisung’. A new musical element entered the mix: rock. No coincidence, Daniel Fichelscher from Amon Düül II made his first appearance here, playing guitars and drums. Fichelscher was to become an important companion for Fricke integrating the rock element as an important and explicit ingredient of their music in the coming years. The music on ‘Seligpreisung’ evokes that typical and mysterious brilliance of Popol Vuh of being able to sound almost non-Western while using mostly Western instruments. While Daniel Fichelscher and Conny Veit gave rock impulses, Florian Fricke and Robert Eliscu approached things from the classical side. Robert Eliscu played a lyrical oboe; his intricate duets with Fricke on the grand piano defined the meditative side of the tracks on the album. Due to the temporary absence of vocalist Djong Yun, all vocal duties fell to Florian Fricke this time. The incredibly beautiful bonus track “Be In Love” is an essential addition. It is the A-side of a now hard to find single, recorded just before the album “Seligpreisung”, with vocals by Djong Yun.
Undisturbed by new developments in rock and pop culture at the time, Popol Vuh continued to go their own way at the end of the 1970s. While disco, punk and new wave introduced new standards, they produced one of their absolute highlights with COEUR DE VERRE (1970). After the more explicit (raga) rock album “Letzte Tage, letzte Nächte”, they released COEUR DE VERRE (Heart of Glass), an album in the same style and with the same intensity, but with even more refined and subtle arrangements. This was their first all-instrumental release since 1973’s Hosianna Mantra. The album was recorded in a smaller line-up with Fricke and Fichelscher; guest musician Matthias von Tippelskirch played flute, Al Gromer contributed flute and sitar. The compositions have unprecedented dynamics with a deep, hypnotic effect, created by irresistible trance-like ambient rock effects. It was hardly a surprise that Werner Herzog chose the music as the soundtrack for his feature film “Heart of Glass.” Herzog claims that almost all the actors performed the entire film under the influence of hypnosis. Subsequently, this album was released as the soundtrack to the film. “COEUR DE VERRE” proves that Popol Vuh’s intense soundscapes can flourish even without vocals. Interwoven with influences of eastern world music, an unmistakably rich progressive rock sound emerged. Heavy, groovy guitar patterns dominate on ‘Hüter der Schwelle’ and ‘Der Ruf’. “Das Lied von den hohen Bergen” and “Singet, denn der Gesang vertreibt die Wölfe” are another two brilliant pieces fusing world music and rock. The atmospheric bonus track “Earth View” serves as the epilogue. The motif, which slowly builds over repetitions, is an ambient solo composition by Florian Fricke from 1977.
The album AGAPE AGAPE (LOVE LOVE) (1983) marks an end of Popol Vuh’s classic phase that covered most of the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, Popol Vuh unfolded their musical vision in many albums that all have their specific qualities. “Agape Agape (Love Love)” features many of the different styles that Popol Vuh developed during these years and combines them in increasingly complex arrangements. Because of its variety, mastermind Florian Fricke considered this album one of his best. The album opens with “Hand in Hand”, filled with choral chanting. The pulsating guitar-driven track “They danced, they laughed, as of old” is a great drone-like raga-rock track, while the swirling song “Agape, Agape” merges an uplifting melody with trance-inducing chanting. “Life, Love, Death” is an almost ritualistic percussion-dominated piece reflecting influences of eastern music. In these times, Fricke was inspired by the work of Persian mystic and poet Rumi. “Behold the Drover Summons” and the closing track “Why Do I Sleep” reflect this inspiration. Besides Fricke on the grand piano, the album is accompanied by the layered vocal chants of Renate Knaup, and guitars and drums by Daniel Fichelscher as well as guitars by Conny Veit. Together they created something that is intense and introspective at the same time. Music for the heart. The bonus track “Circledance” complements the engaging folk- and prog-rock atmosphere of this album perfectly and makes this a sought-after Popol Vuh record.
The original soundtrack COBRA VERDE(1987) of Werner Herzog’s historical film drama, based on the novel by Bruce Chatwin and starring Klaus Kinski, was nominated for an Oscar Academy Award. The arrangements feature several layered orchestral, oratorio-like chants and choirs accompanied by Fricke’s piano and Fichelscher’s guitar and percussion, made in collaboration with the Bavarian State Opera Chorus, among others. With the two synthesizer tracks “Nachts:Schnee” and “Eine andere Welt”, Popol Vuh ventured away from their signature sound somewhat, finding two fantastically dramatic and darkly beautiful epic ambient soundscapes. COBRA VERDE became an extraordinary milestone in the history of soundtracks as well as an atmospheric ambient score.
Sometimes, the term ‘Krautrock’ is associated with Popol Vuh. Originating in England, the term started out as more of a collective term for music from Germany in England than a genre classification. Similar to CAN, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, Neu! or Kraftwerk, Popol Vuh stood for a renewal and musical opening: for a time of global cultural awakening. For this reason, and also because of the legendary soundtracks to Werner Herzog’s major motion pictures, Popol Vuh’s music stands internationally for an unmistakable, authentic influence and expression of its time. “Popol Vuh´s music reveals the darkest, most hidden things inside of our soul. Without it, my best films would never have existed”, remarks Werner Herzog. A timeless music, whose impact and beauty touches us, again and again.
LP1 Cobra Verde (OST “Cobra Verde“)
Der Tod des Cobra Verde
Om Mani Padme Hum 4*
Sieh nicht überm Meer ist’s
Eine andere Welt
Grab der Mutter
Hab Mut, bis dass die Nacht mit Ruh’ und Stille kommt