Popol Vuh: Essential Album Collection – preview
On 26 April 2019, BMG will release the most important works of POPOL VUH from the 70s, a period regarded as their most productive phase. Affenstunde, Hosianna Mantra, Einsjäger & Siebenjäger, Aguirre and Nosferatu will be available as high-quality CD digipaks, and all remastered by POPOL VUH’S members Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fiedler. They include bonus tracks, as well as a detailed, illustrated booklet and liner notes. On the same day, a 6-LP, high-quality collector’s box The Essential Album Collection Vol. 1 will be released for the first time, containing all five groundbreaking albums, which have been remastered as audiophile 180g vinyl pressings, including original track listings and bonus tracks.
The press release reads as follows:
The band POPOL VUH is one of the pioneers of electronic music and progressive rock. Far beyond the Krautrock-movement and any other genre, their music combines rock with electronics, integrated ethno and world music elements, and experimented with the synthesizer at an early stage. Founded in 1970 in Munich, POPOL VUH was the first German group to use the Moog-synthesizer, creating new worlds of sound that were groundbreaking for ambient and trance music. Florian Fricke, composer, keyboard visionary and founder of the group, contrived his own realms of sound with the legendary MOOG III for their first album Affenstunde, thus creating a landmark in the world of new music.
In 1972, renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog and POPOL VUH entered into a long-lasting creative partnership, during which Fricke would write soundtracks for some of Herzog’s most important films and received several Oscar nominations for his work. The band’s history ended in 2001, with the death of POPOL VUH’s mastermind Florian Fricke.
2011 saw a revival of POPOL VUH’s legacy, with a tribute remix album by renowned musicians and DJs such as Ame (Dixon/ Innervisions), Stereolab, Mouse on Mars, Thomas Fehlmann (The Orb) and Peter Kruder (Kruder & Dorfmeister), who had all dedicated themselves to the group’s legacy.
Their debut album Affenstunde, released in 1970, became known as the electronic pioneers’ first legendary MOOG album. During that time, Florian Fricke had immersed himself in Mayan mythology (and the Mayan view on the history of human creation) and let some of these spiritual themes flow into this‘trippy work of art, leaving behind all and any previously upheld musical conventions. The music on Affenstunde captivates with a meditative, trance-like atmosphere. To the contrary, the long bonus track Train Through Time– a later work crafted by Fricke and Fiedler on an Ensoniq TS 12 synth in 1997 – is a rhythmic, hypnotic and ambient composition.
With the release of the album Hosianna Mantra in 1972, the music world witnessed what was described by Musikexpress as, “One of the most beautiful records of all time”. After the two MOOG albums Affenstunde (1970) and Gärten Pharaos (1972), composer Florian Fricke had found a new fascination with Christianity and Buddhism and decided to leave behind the realms of electronic music, giving way to the sounds of the human voice and acoustic instrumentals. The new album, enriched with the angelic voice of the Korean soprano Djong Yun, creates a breathtaking, suggestive musical world of sound. Fricke’s piano, Conny Veit’s guitar, as well as tracks with oboe and tamboura, are what gives this work of art an evocative power that unites it as sublime, ambient and prog rock fusion.
Einsjäger & Siebenjäger was POPOL VUH’s fifth album and was first released in 1974 via the label Kosmische Musik. This lyrical, progressive rock album is considered one of POPOL VUH’s best albums. It includes five great instrumental compositions and the 19-minute-long title track. The album conveys a graceful, devotional atmosphere with long, flat tracks. It is a lyrical journey with moments of concentrated energy, fine melodic themes and twists. In addition to the vocals of Djong Yun, the album exhibits the inspirational, powerful interplay of Florian Fricke’s piano compositions and the captivating electric guitar of Daniel Fichelscher.
The soundtrack for Werner Herzog’s legendary cult film Aguirre – The Wrath of God marked the beginning of a long, creative cooperation between POPOL VUH and the renowned filmmaker, who now lives in Los Angeles, California. Aguirre, starring Klaus Kinski, tells the fictional story of Spanish Conquistadors. The film is regarded as Herzog’s most important work and was an international success as one of the greatest German cinematic movies. Released as an album one year after the movie premiered in 1975, Aguirre was ranked among the Best 50 Soundtracks Of All Time by music magazine Rolling Stone in 2018. The spherical impression of the Aguirre theme is taken up in two long, different versions on the album. Played on the so-called choir organ and based on electronic vocal samples, Fricke composed a trance-inducing piece with an extraterrestrial, angelic choir, accompanied by subtle guitar sounds. The first version introduces a powerful ambient theme, the second version features the brilliant Daniel Fichelscher’s guitar.
Two different albums, Brüder des Lichts and On The Way to a Little Way, were released as one work of art with the title Nosferatu, released as a soundtrack to the Werner Herzog classic and cult film of the same name. Herzog first asked Fricke for music that would frighten any audience. Quickly, Fricke chose and recorded three old MOOG songs from his archives, which would become the foundation for the second Nosferatu album. Electronic choirs, long guitar riffs, and oriental instruments like the tamboura created an entrancing, mystical atmosphere. In 2004, the label SPV combined both albums for a single release. That version has now been remastered by Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fiedler.
The 6-LP collector box set The Essential Album Collection Vol. 1 combines these five groundbreaking POPOL VUH albums from the 70s for the very first time. Remastered by Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fiedler, the albums are released as audiophile 180g vinyl pressing, with detailed liner notes and three original posters.
6 LP-Box Set: The Essential Album Collection Vol. 1
LP1: AFFENSTUNDE (1970)
LP2: HOSIANNA MANTRA (1972)
LP3: EINSJÄGER & SIEBENJÄGER (1974)
LP4: AGUIRRE (1975) – ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FOR THE WERNER HERZOG MOVIE AGUIRRE
LP5/LP6: NOSFERATU (1978) – ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FOR THE WERNER HERZOG MOVIE NOSFERATU
– All albums remastered by former POPOL VUH members Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fiedler
– Audiophile 180g vinyl pressing
– Original tracklistings plus multiple bonus tracks
– High quality collector box-set with spot varnishing
– Original artworks (gatefold)
– Original “Nosferatu” poster plus two band posters
– 6-page insert with detailed liner notes, photos and discography
Format: CD (Digipak)
- Ich mache einen Spiegel (Dream Part 4) 8:51
- Ich mache einen Spiegel (Dream Part 5) 4:36
- Ich mache einen Spiegel (Dream Part 49) 7:42
- Affenstunde 18:35
- Train Through Time (Bonus Track) 10:31
Format: CD (Digipak)
- Ah! 4:48
- Kyrie 5:23
- Hosianna – Mantra 10:11
Das 5. Buch Mose:
- Abschied 3:16
- Segnung 6:07
- Andacht Pt. 1 0:47
- Nicht hoch im Himmel 6:18
- Andacht Pt. 2 0:46
- Maria (Bonus Track) 4:29
Einsjäger & Siebenjäger
Format: CD (Digipak)
- Kleiner Krieger 1:08
- King Minos 4:26
- Morgengruß 2:56
- Würfelspiel 3:08
- Gutes Land 5:14
- Einsjäger & Siebenjäger 19:24
- King Minos II (Bonus Track) 1:55
- Wo bist du? (Bonus Track) 5:42
Format: CD (Digipak)
- Aguirre I 7:24
- Morgengruss II 2:58
- Aguirre II 6:13
- Agnus Dei 3:07
- Vergegenwaertigung 16:47
- Aguirre III (Bonus Track) 7:17
Format: CD (Digipak)
- Brüder des Schattens 5:45
- Höre, der du wagst 6:00
- Das Schloss des Irrtums 5:37
- Die Umkehr 5:57
- Mantra I 6:15
- Morning sun 3:21
- Venus principle 4:41
- Mantra II 5:23
- Die Nacht der Himmel 5:03
- Der Ruf der Rohrflöte 3:39
- To a little way 2:33
- Through pains to heaven 3:47
- On the way 4:05
- Zwiesprache der Rohrflöte 3:26
All albums come with detailed booklets, including exclusive photos and liner notes by Klaus Schulze, Werner Herzog, Gerd Augustin, Manfred Gillig-Degrave and Michael Fuchs-Gamböck. Remastered by former POPOL VUH member Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fiedler.
You can pre-order the sets via the following link.
Article by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archive pages