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Popol Vuh - Letzte Tage - Letzte Nächte CD (album) cover

LETZTE TAGE - LETZTE NÄCHTE

Popol Vuh

Krautrock


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Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is probably the closest that Popol Vuh came to straightforward rock music. The sound is dominated by Daniel Fichelschers electric guitar and drums, and there are none of the ambient, meditative pieces that they did so well on other albums. Fichelscher also gets writng credits on no less than 3 of the 8 tracks. The mood for the album is set by Die Grosse Krieger, a multi layered guitar instrumental that matches King Crimson's Red in intensity (although not virtuosity). Most of the tracks which follow are built around the same electric guitar sound with booming percussion - Fricke's piano is rarely audible, and there are no acoustic interludes. Despite all this, it is still recognisably a Popol Vuh album. The guitar may be a Telecaster, but it explores Eastern modes and scales, and the drums may be heavy but we're still a world away from John Bonham or Keith Moon. The vocals, particularly on the second half of the album, are inspired - Fricke's choirboy tones blend beautifully with the two female sopranos on 'Haram Dei...' and the title track.

The fact that this album will fit comfortably onto one side of a C60 may seem like poor value for money, but quality is as important as quantity and Popol Vuh cram more into 30 minutes than many lesser bands do into a double album. Not the best place for newcomers to start, but an exsellent addition to any collection.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#31942)
Posted Friday, January 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars This is the last album of the classic Popol Vuh era before starting a working partnership with filmmaker Werner Herzog. Most of the following albums will be soundtracks and few of them will be really interesting for the average proghead.

As fellow reviewer Chris Gleeson says, this is as close as Popol Vuh gets to energetic rock and there is still lots of space to fill up to get there and I am not sure I would speak of Bonham, Fripp or moon to describe this album. As with the previous albums recorded, this stays very reflective music even though Renate Knaup (ex Amon Duul II) joined the delicious soprano voiced Yun. This openly meditative music sometimes resembles religious incantations, which was a goal of Fricke (he had converted to both Buddhism and Christianism). Fricke and Fichelscher (the mainstays in the band) are at the top of their game and the percussions are astounding. However, one cannot help but think that Popol Vuh, although bettering themselves with everyone of their last four or five albums, are slightly repeating themselves.

While still a fantastic album, along with Seligpreising , Salomos and Einsjager, this is to be IMHO the last album worth investigating from Popol Vuh. Oh what the hell!! Give it another half star!!!!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#31943)
Posted Thursday, April 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
5 stars A sumptuous, pastoral, mystical album that pursues on the way launched by the seminal "Eisnjager..." and "Seligpresung". Popol Vuh are at the summit of their career. The atmosphere is totally fascinating, perfectly controlled emotionally with very pleasant, spiritual moments. We are fare from their two first challenged "ethnic" electronic, meditative works and really more into guitars / piano / female vocals combination. The vocal melodies of the soprano Djon Yun are especially beautiful and ethereal. Daniel Fichelscher's dreamy and clean guitar playing is pretty effective and well accompanied by the serenity of Florian Fricke's piano playing. Next to the massive "Hosianna Mantra", "seligpresung" and "Eisnjager..." this one is the fourth classic album offered by the band.

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#37117)
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another essential Popol vuh album from the mid 70's golden era. It's chronologically the last excellent Popol vuh album, along with « Heart of glass», «Die Nacht der Seele» and «Nosferatu». The guitar plays the main role here. The guitar play is more expressive, psychedelic and lyrical than ever before. The summit is reached on « Oh wie weist ist der Weg hinauf » with its intense guitar part. The mystical dimension is expressed through devotional female vocals such as on «Haram dei Raram Dei Ra », the ethereal « Kyrie ».

All the current CD versions feature a very poor sound. The SPV release makes no exception, but feature some good bonus -with slightly better sound than the album itself- such as an alternate cover of « Oh wie weist ist der Weg hinauf » with male vocals, called « Haram dei Ra ».

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Send comments to oliverstoned (BETA) | Report this review (#94251)
Posted Thursday, October 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'm not sure why I like the cover so much, a country setting with trees and sheep in a field with the sky showing above. This picture gives a clue as to what kind of music is offered here. A pastoral, gentle and beautful work that is reflective as well.

I really like the melody in the first song "Der Grosse Krieger" with the beautiful guitar melodies and the piano that comes and goes. "Oh Wie Nah Ist Der Weg Hinab" opens with some odd sounds (samples?) and out of those sounds come the drums. A minute and a half in the piano and guitar join the soundscape.The guitar sounds fantastic 3 minutes in. We have vocals for the first time on the next song "Oh Wie Weit Ist Der Weg Hinauf", she sings the same line over and over (for a minute and a half) as drums and guitar play along.The final 3 minutes are a hypnotic and mesmerizing treat for the ears.

I really like "Dort Ist Der Weg", it just seems like everyone performs on a higher level on this song including the vocals, drums and guitar, Just an amazing tune.The title song "Letzte Tage-Letzte Nachte" is also the final song on the record.The female vocals are in English for the first time and she sings over and over "when love is calling you, turn around". I don't know why but these words are so powerful and amazing to me, along with the beautiful guitar playing.

I believe that Florian Fricke must have been a very special and warm person judging from his music. And this work is highly recommended.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#107196)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars The Kraut tag is a bit misleading for the 72-76 Popol Vuh albums. With acoustic ethnic instruments, clean guitars, piano and dry subdued drums, this subtle melodious music evokes a spiritual pastoral feel that has little to do with the cosmic sounds, nor with the experiments, the mind-expanding trips, or with the psychedelic rock of other Kraut bands. But with two previous Amon Düül II members in the line-up, Letzte Tage Letzte Nächte is the most rocking and Kraut-y album they ever made and my favorite together with In Dem Garten Pharaos from the early electronic period.

Florian Fricke would soon steer the band into soundtrack writing for Herzog's movies, which makes Letzte Tage Letzte N'chte the last album of this 'classic' Popol Vuh era. Renate Knaup from Amon Düül II had joined the band on vocals, and together with Djong Yun she delivers some of het best vocals since the early Amon Düül II days. The music on this 30 minute short album is very intricate and intense. It's not too difficult to get into but it still needs many listens before all things fall into place. In a way, these 30 minutes get more things going then the average 60 minute you are likely to bump into these days.

The 2005 reissue adds 3 worthy bonus tracks of which two are instrumental. The other one has vocals from - I assume - Florian Fricke himself, which would make Haram Dei Ra his first vocal appearance since the Seligpreisung album. It's the umpteenth 'Haram Dei' of Popol Vuh but it's a very good one.

It doesn't happen often that one has to recommend the 7th album from a 70s artist, but I would sure do it for this one, it pleads for Florian Fricke's artistic integrity and perseverance to continue improving his music. With its more rocking and slightly darker tone, you can still here echoes of this music today in the works of bands like Wovenhand and Grails. Recommended!

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#379809)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A vast improvement over and refinement of the previous album (Das Hohelied Salomos), on Letzte Tage - Letzte Nachte Daniel Fichelscher's percussion is scaled back in the mix and no longer overwhelms his excellent guitar work, which in its interplays with Al Gromer's sitar is one of the true treats of this album. Like the best Popol Vuh works, the album produces ethereal, delicate sheets of sound, with Djong Yun's beautiful vocals occasionally emerging. Relaxing, enchanting, tranquil, placid, and unfailingly gentle, Letzte Tage - Letzte Nachte is a top flight Popol Vuh album which will be of interest to anyone keen on the New Agey end of Krautrock.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#549130)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album focusing its concerns of the "Final Day - Final Night" moves drastically from the overwhelmingly peaceful elevating territories of earlier albums towards darker moods. "Der grosse Krieger" counterbalances the small war opener of "Einsjäger & Siebenjäger" with a much greater conflict, illustrated trough dramatic weaving of guitars from several channels, knitting a melancholic memorial carpet of collapsing cities. Heavier assault from drums and vast instrumentation layers enforce the impact of this great apocalyptic scenery, and also introduces harder musical approach to the lighter acoustic tones dominating earlier records. The confrontation scene leads to dual compositions contemplating "How near is the path below" and "How far is the path above". First impression to this perspective is granted trough mythic orientalism from dark shades of archaic percussions. Fatalistic theme of guitar creeps closer, persisting quite long on the stalking phase, until released to glide to the vast lands of imagination, allowing optimistic choices being seen in the horizon for the first time. Second illumination introduces the album's key mantra "Haram dei Raram dei Haram dei Ra", which I believe might refer to "The most sacred holy sanctuary of sun" (or something similar). The chant borne from tribal acoustic textures opens as wonderfully rolling acid rock passage, signaling an unchangeable fatalistic truth from its monolithic persistence. The first album closes to more calmer hymn "In Your hands", returning to the more soothing light orientalist fusion sounds familiar from the earlier 1970's recordings of Popol Vuh, and giving promises of hope with its elevating closing chords.

The second side of the LP starts with "Kyrie", not repeating the melody from "Hosianna Mantra"'s similarly named composition. I believe the singing is started here by Djong Yun and later joined by Renate Knaup, together forming a chorus which starts rising powerfully from the beginning's piano basis, shifting emphasis to guitars and gaining unearthly power for its call. Return to the "Haram Dei" mantra leads to a visionary sight, guiding towards the correct path in darkness trough the shimmer from krautrock treadmills of drum enforced evangelistic assault. The conclusion of the final day rolls guided by the faith familiar from the first side's closing, fulfilling the healing potential of the marvelous group, and leading to the universal answer of love. The lyrics from the few last songs are also sung in English, though the titles are written in German to the album sleeve. So though the record's theme is about the absolute end of earthly existence, it however leads towards spiritual hope of continuity, relying on promises of unseen lands, the potential of loving and the justice of holy creator. Musically the record is also more harmonious than some of the earlier Fricke / Fichelscher albums, and reaches ultimate climaxes of spiritual experience from heavier approach, which was earlier succeeded from more quiet paths of piety on "Hosianna Matra". I got an opportunity to hear the bonus tracks of 2005 released SPV CD version, which provide pleasant glimpses to possible omitted takes and longer edits from the album sessions, being interesting, but not necessary for the core experience of the original album. An album, which I consider along the finest recorded by this extraordinary group, enlarging also the mental and tonal palette of Popol Vuh by introducing heavier approach to the musical language of Florian and his musician friends.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#804563)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012 | Review Permalink

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