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POPOL VUH

Krautrock • Germany


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Popol Vuh biography
Founded in Munich, Germany in 1969 - Disbanded in 2001 (Florian's death)

Florian FRICKE was born by Lake Constance in 1944. From 1959 till 1963 he studied music in Munich, where he was a pupil of Rudolph Hindemith (Paul Hindemith's brother). At the age of 25 he became acquainted with the Moog synthsizer which leads him to form his band POPOL VUH. This name and inspiration come from the holy book of Guatemala's Quiche Indians. Historically, Popol Vuh's "Affestunde" (1970) is the first experimental rock release entirely built around the Moog Synthesiser (with the add of percussions to provide a mystical flavour).

In 1971, their second album "In Den Garten Pharaos" keeps on fusing ambient electronic textures with traditional, ethnic instruments, but put the stress on spiritual themes. In 1972, "Hosianna Mantra" marked a turning point in POPOL VUH career by rejecting electronic instrumentations in favour of acoustic elements including a lot of oboe, konga, tamboura accompaniment and female vocals (the Korean soprano singer Djong Yun and later Renate Knaup, front woman of AMON DÜÜL II)

In 1974, after the departure of the guitarist Conny Veit (the founder of GILA), Daniel Fichelscher (former drummer of AMON DÜÜL II) becomes an active member of POPOL VUH ethereal and spiritual adventure. Florian Frike's POPOL VUH was also known from a larger audience thanks to the collaboration with the German director Werner Herzog, providing the soundtracks of many of his classic films, notably the hypnotic and reflective "Aguire, Wrath of God", "Heart of Glass"...In 1978, Florian Fricke founded the "working group for creative singing" and became a member of the society of breathing therapy. He holds lectures all over the world on his work in this field.

: : : Philippe Blache, FRANCE : : :

See also: HERE

Not to be confounded with Norwegian band POPOL ACE / POPOL VUH

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POPOL VUH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

POPOL VUH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 109 ratings
Affenstunde
1970
3.99 | 197 ratings
In Den Gärten Pharaos
1971
4.17 | 324 ratings
Hosianna Mantra
1972
4.06 | 143 ratings
Seligpreisung
1973
4.02 | 129 ratings
Einsjäger & Siebenjäger
1974
3.72 | 101 ratings
Das Hohelied Salomos
1975
4.02 | 152 ratings
Aguirre
1975
4.15 | 134 ratings
Letzte Tage - Letzte Nächte
1976
2.77 | 37 ratings
Yoga
1976
3.65 | 49 ratings
Herz Aus Glas
1977
4.00 | 87 ratings
On The Way To A Little Way
1978
3.56 | 62 ratings
Brüder Des Schattens - Söhne Des Lichts
1978
3.85 | 51 ratings
Die Nacht Der Seele - Tantric Songs
1979
3.48 | 44 ratings
Sei Still, Wisse ICH BIN
1981
3.40 | 37 ratings
Agape-Agape Love-Love
1984
3.11 | 26 ratings
Spirit Of Peace
1985
3.40 | 23 ratings
Cobra Verde (OST)
1987
2.71 | 21 ratings
For You And Me
1991
2.63 | 18 ratings
City Raga
1995
1.83 | 18 ratings
Shepherd's Symphony
1997
2.71 | 15 ratings
Messa Di Orfeo
1999

POPOL VUH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

POPOL VUH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

POPOL VUH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Discover Cosmic
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
Perlenklänge - The Best Of Popol Vuh
1976
4.13 | 31 ratings
Tantric Songs
1981
2.57 | 16 ratings
Fitzcarraldo
1982
3.92 | 6 ratings
Music from the Werner Herzog Films
1982
3.50 | 2 ratings
In The Gardens Of Pharao / Aguirre
1983
1.75 | 4 ratings
Gesang der Gesänge
1988
4.81 | 7 ratings
The Best of Popol Vuh
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Florian Fricke
1991
4.06 | 13 ratings
Hosianna Mantra / Tantric Songs
1991
2.63 | 10 ratings
Sing, for Songs Drive Away the Wolves
1993
3.04 | 4 ratings
Best of Popol Vuh
1993
3.00 | 2 ratings
Movie Music
1994
3.00 | 2 ratings
Soundtracks For Werner Herzog
1996
3.85 | 8 ratings
Nicht Hoch Im Himmel
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
Future Sound Experience
2002
2.25 | 4 ratings
70s Progressives
2006
2.05 | 2 ratings
The Werner Herzog Soundtracks
2011
3.00 | 1 ratings
Revisited & Remixed 1970 - 1999
2011
3.00 | 3 ratings
Kailash
2015

POPOL VUH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
City Raga
1995
2.00 | 1 ratings
Nachts: Schnee
2008

POPOL VUH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Affenstunde by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.21 | 109 ratings

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Affenstunde
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars POPOL VUH was one of Germany's most successful Krautrock acts lead by the creative leadership of Florian Fricke. Formed in 1969 by Fricke, Frank Fiedler, Bettinea Fricke and Holger Trülzsch, the project was really a collective with rotating members that came and went over the years with on Fricke at the helm changing the project's stylistic approach from album to album. While famous for incorporating ethnic world music into lush thematic collages that resulted in a few film soundtracks, POPOL VUH (named after the famous ancient Mayan texts) began as one of the very first moog based space music albums in the vein of what Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze would make a career out of.

AFFENSTUNDE (in English "monkey hour") was released in 1970, the same year as Tangerine Dream's debut "Electronic Meditation" but while Edgar Froese and company were at the point of flirting with totally cosmic chaos in sound with more emphasis on detachment and escapism in an experimental rock context, POPOL VUH on the other hand had already developed one of the earliest ambient electronic albums that focused on the expansive qualities of the moog synthesizer taking the Krautrock scene out of the heavy psych blues based guitar rock of the 60s and propelling the scene into the distant realms of outer space. Although not usually credited as such, AFFENSTUNDE nonetheless provided a blueprint for many other similarly minded German acts to latch onto.

While Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Igor Wakhévitch and many others would soon make entire careers out of these spaced out journeys into the moog zone, it was really POPOL VUH that started the whole thing before completely abandoning these sounds in order to focus on more organic instrumentation with heavy influences from world music genera. Despite the rich expansive sounds that are experienced on AFFENSTUNDE, in reality all sounds were created on a single 4-module moog synthesizer accompanied by fiery ethnic percussion that included both Indian tablas and Middle Eastern rhythmic percussive drive long before Agitation Free adopted the same hybridization effect.

Although AFFENSTUNDE is broken up into four tracks (a fifth bonus track that fits in quite well is added on the 2004 remaster edition), in reality this is a single spaced out journey that starts out by breaking free of Earth's gravitational pull and provides a soundscape that focuses on bizarre quantum sounding oscillations, strange electronic bloops and bleeps that randomly phase in and out and spaced out atmospheric backdrops that imitate solar winds and heavenly ambience. The original album featured the three part "Ich Mache Einen Spiegel" (I make a mirror) for side A and the 19 minute title track for side B. The album created a bizarre contradiction with ambient sounds that emanated the cold vacuous regions of deep space but reeled in the detachment with heavy doses of randomly displayed ethnic percussion with begin on the "Dream Part 5" (there are no parts 1-3, it all starts with Part 4.)

Basically the "Dream Part 4" is exclusively space ambience and is followed by "Dream Part 5" which is exclusively tribal percussion circles. "Dream Part 49" reverts back to space ambience only makes it all even weirder, more detached and more representative of the deepest recesses of outer space. Like a trip around Pluto perhaps! The grand finale is the side long title track which fuses the two disparate styles together in a stream of consciousness that extends to the 19 minute mark and features the space rock interacting with the tribal percussion. This sequence is perhaps some of the strangest and most forward thinking creative outburst in all of the early Krautrock scene. While it would've been easy to simply feature tribal drumming behind a wall of ambient sound, Fricke was a genius in how he melded the two polar opposites together in a manner that changed the entire effect of both.

This one doesn't seem to get a lot of love as most POPOL VUH fans tend to get to this debut release well after they have become familiar with the more melodic and organic albums that dominated the 70s. AFFENSTUNDE is the anomaly of the POLPOL VUH canon but for those seeking the furthest out there Krautrock trips then this one is surely one for the essential list as it encapsulates everything that makes such music so wildly dynamic. The album is paced well and allows the emotive reactions to ratchet up until climaxes and then moves on as not to become repetitive and redundant. This style of music is subtle and complex but quite rewarding for those who crave a complete disregard for music tradition and like the Star Trek series that ended only the year prior, showcases that pioneering spirit that proves that music could still venture forth into arenas where no human being has gone before. Love this one!

 In Den Gärten Pharaos by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.99 | 197 ratings

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In Den Gärten Pharaos
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Throughout the prog scene of the late 60s and early 70s, there were a number of artists that are known for experimenting quite wildly to create some incredibly influential artists that still have a clear impact in today's music. I feel like the extreme experimentation taking part during these times is even further exemplified in krautrock, often psychedelic bands that clearly were ahead of their time in certain respects, such as Popol Vuh and their massive contributions to ambient music as a whole, often coined as the band with the very first ambient albums. Of course if the only draw of this band was their experimental nature and nothing else, then they'd be more akin to simply an interesting band to look at, rather than one that was genuinely really enjoyable to listen to as this is.

One of the interesting aspects of this album is how spacey it sounds while containing a lot of more krautrock elements into the mix as well, particularly whenever there's drumming. The album's tone is established immediately within the first couple of minutes of the title track, with the relaxing sounds of water with a droning moog creating a very calming atmosphere that definitely has an element of spaciness to it. The drumming is what I find to be quite interesting here, due to the fact that it's quite fast paced and completely contrasts the minimalistic nature of all the other components of the track. This could be seen as a bad thing, but the tribal drumming that regularly falls into hypnotic groove works exceptionally to further add to the track's ability to engross the listener. There's also considerably more progression in this than in a lot of ambient that I've heard, as this has clear sections where things change up to some extent, with the most notable one being where everything begins to build up, the drums get faster, and then everything falls back into the same sort of groove as before, but with an additional keyboard melody over the top, which continues to play on until all that remains is the sound of water once again.

The atmosphere of Vuh is more grandiose than that of the title track, with the inclusion of the church organ as the core of the track creating a far different feel, much more ominous and intense rather than relaxing. That said, the approach remains largely the same, with long periods of droning backed by hand percussion that constantly switches between very fast paced, to extremely rhythmic and hypnotic, both of which play into the track exquisitely. This track manages to perfectly strike an odd balance between sounding downright intense and chaotic at points with how immersive yet majestic the soundscape is, yet still sound like something almost perfect to meditate to. This is the preferred track on the album to me due to the fact that I really can't think of much that sounds even close to this, or at least manages to pull off such a sound as well as this does.

This is easily what I consider to be one of Popol Vuh's best albums, as the band never went this intense before or after, with much less focus on making a merely pleasant experience displayed here, but rather taking the core concept of ambient and then creating something unique from it. This is what krautrock was all about, being unconventional and daring, in this case, not only expanding upon the ambient approach of their debut, Affenstunde, but adding a brand new spin on it through the far more intense approach taken. This not only acts as a point of interest in terms musical influence, but works extremely well as an album in its own right, and is definitely one that I've enjoyed listening to countless times.

Verdict: While not necessarily a great introduction into either ambient or krautrock, this is a very impressive album, both for how ahead of its time it feels, and for how well the album works in its own right, capturing so much intensity at points while still remaining disinctly meditative, leading to a deeply enjoyable album overall.

 Nachts: Schnee by POPOL VUH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2008
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Nachts: Schnee
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars This release is comprised of remixes of two Popol Vuh tracks. The first is the Mika Vainio remix of "Nachts: Schnee," originally from Popol Vuh's 1987 soundtrack to Cobra Verde. I know very little about Popol Vuh other than the fact that the band eschewed synthesizers after their first two albums. What I know of Mika Vainio is that he was an electronic musician who once said "I have never used computers to make music." So there seems to be an affinity here. The original "Nachts: Schnee" (German for "Snow at Night" or "Night Snow") was less than two minutes long, so at ten minutes, the Vainio remix is over five times the length of the original. In a way it's as much as a modernized extension of the original, rhythmless ambiance track as it is a remix. It's good, although it doesn't really reimagine the original.

The b-side, if you will, is a Haswell & Hecker remix of "Aguirre I," originally from the 1972 soundtrack to Aguirre - The Wrath of God (and also included, with "Aguirre II" and several other pieces, on Popol Vuh's 1975 album Aguirre, which did not feature "Aguirre III" in its original form. So it's complicated). Though they were recorded 15 years apart by different lineups of the band, what connects "Nachts: Schnee" and "Aguirre I" is that both were recorded for films by New German Cinema director Werner Herzog. "Aguirre I" comes from the film Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes ("Aguirre, the Wrath of God"), considered one of the best movies of all time. Roger Ebert, for example, included in his personal top-ten in 2002. Ebert devoted two paragraphs in his original movie review to the soundtrack, which he credits to "Florian Fricke, whose band Popol Vuh?has contributed the soundtracks to many Herzog films." Elsewhere, of course, including on this release, it is attributed to Popol Vuh. Like he original "Nachts: Schnee," "Aguirre I" is largely atmospheric, although it contains other elements at the beginning and end of its seven-plus-minute runtime. The Haswell & Hecker track is much in the spirit of the Vainio remix of "Nachts: Schnee."

While I appreciate both of these remixes, and I recognize that they are every bit as musical as Beethoven, I can't say that I understand the exact purpose behind this release. At least as music separate from the films they were created for, the original tracks were average cinema music, and neither of these mixes add much value to its source material.

 Hosianna Mantra by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.17 | 324 ratings

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Hosianna Mantra
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Hosianna - Mantra" is a sacred fusion between West and East: Hosianna (Christian hymn) and Mantra (Hindu and Buddhist ritual).

This music isn't rock: is sacred classical music with modern occidental arrangement. Florian Fricke's piano and harpsichord lead the orchestra formed by the violin and the oboe flanked by instruments typical of western pop-rock: acoustic and electric guitar, played in a classical way by the guitarist Conny Veitt. The eastern part of the sound is entrusted to the Klaus Wiese tambura and the celestial soprano voice, the Korean Djong Yun.

The original album (1972) is composed in two parts: the side A called "Hosianna Mantra", and the side B called "Das V. Buch Mose". "Ah!" is an instrumental piece where the piano repeats hypnotically some ascending and descending stairs. It is an interlocutory piece, which has a certain nervousness. Vote 7,5.

"Kyrie": in this song, embellished by the angelic voice of the singer, you hear more the almost psychedelic phrasing of the electric guitar, which allows you to reach meditative ecstasy. Vote 8.

In "Hosianna - Mantra" (ten minutes, vote 8,5/9) the Christ's ascension into Heaven is accompanied at the beginning by Yun's voice and a crescendo of electric guitar and piano that wants to reach mystical ecstasy. After a slowdown and a pause, the hypnotic cadence of the piece begins again and the cresendo of the song declaiming "Hosianna" is wonderful. The sacred touch is reached by the atmosphere created by the voice and the oboe (played by Robert Eliscu). Great masterpiece.

Side B, "Das V Buch Mose", is inspired by the biblical narratives of the fifth book of Moses. "Abschied" is an instrumental piece driven by the oboe, which gives it melancholy. Vote 7 +. "Segnung" (six minutes) is an atmospheric piece where you hear the harpsichord in the background and Yun's voice is more ethereal than ever. When it seems to go towards fading, the phrasing of the piano returns to make the piece lively. Vote 8+. Masterpiece. "Andacht" are 40 seconds of celestial atmosphere.

"Nicht hoch im Himmel" (again 6 minutes) is the most unpredictable and hybrid piece between meditative tone (the singing) and moments of restlessness (always left to the piano). Not easy to be listened. Vote 7,5/8. "Andacht II" are 35 seconds of final tail.

Hosianna Mantra, year 1972, is an album full of celestial songs, but too homogeneous, that towards the end requires a certain motivation to be listened. The music is not so much a mixture between east and west because the orchestration is typically western, but the meditative and ethereal tone, worthy of a yoga session, make it suitable for the east. Hosianna Mantra anticipates ambient and new Age music.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,92. Vote Album: 8,5. Rating: Four Stars.

 Hosianna Mantra by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.17 | 324 ratings

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Hosianna Mantra
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by WFV

4 stars Florian designed this album as a mass for the soul, The beauty and elegance stuns the listener at first and then wraps around them like a favourite blanket. Conny Veit adds exceptional color to the proceedings with his clear toned and humble guitar. Djong Yun lends here gorgeous voice wherever it's needed, truly sounding like the jewel in the lotus. Frank Zappa once said progressive rock is, in general, "rock that doesn't sound like anything else". I'm not sure this is rock but it surely doesn't sound like anything else I've heard in the popular music fields. Prog indeed.

The only hangup I have with this album and Popol Vuh in general is they make me feel guilty for not practicing my faith more consistently 4.5 stars

 In Den Gärten Pharaos by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.99 | 197 ratings

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In Den Gärten Pharaos
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by WFV

5 stars Superb proto hypno new age intense spiritual electric rock. I'm fond of several albums made of one extended song for each side. This one, Clearlight Symphony, Pulsar Halloween, Steve Hillage Rainbow Dome Music and the obligatory Thick as a Brick come to mind first, but this set the standard for all that came before or later. I don't know if the prog landscape would be any different if Popol Vuh didn't exist but the texture their recording provides to the genre should not go unnoticed. Both sides here are highlights, for me over any early German experiment from Tangerine Dream to Klaus Schulze to Kraftwerk to Ash Ra Tempel and on and on. The BBC Krautrock documentary highlights Popol Vuh and Florian Fricke, and I feel my collection wouldn't be full without access to his musical contributions to the world. This is a top twenty five album of all time for me, and it may not be their best one.
 Affenstunde by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.21 | 109 ratings

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Affenstunde
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This certainly sounds nothing like Florian's 70's albums but then this was his debut released in 1970 and he seemed to be experimenting a lot with his moog here. POPOL VUH were a four piece here with synths, tablas and percussion rounding out the instruments. I remember when I picked this up I thought that despite the poor rating I would like it given the descriptions. Well... not so much as those first two tracks in particular really annoy me, while the third track is more what I was expecting throughout this album. The final track is hit and miss so 3 stars is the best I can do.

""Dream Part 4" yes I'm skipping the long title before the first three songs. Anyway it opens with birds chirping before some brief water sounds then atmosphere. Then these high pitched bleeping sounds come in that drive me crazy. This continues until around 3 1/2 minutes but they do return. Just not into this one. "Part 5" opens with atmosphere before this annoying percussion with tablas takes over, again not my scene.

"Part 49" is much better as we get some spacey sounds and this is fairly dark and sparse with some faint percussion. The final tune is the title track at over 18 1/2 minutes. Interesting sounds come and go before the drums rumble in. It sounds pretty cool before 3 minutes. I like this. Drums stop before 5 minutes as a haunting soundscape continues. A change 6 1/2 minutes in as we get a pulsing sound with a humming over top. Blipping sounds join in and it stays this way for a long time right to the end.

I rate pretty much all his 70's albums 4 stars and up so yes this was disappointing to say the least. A low 3 stars from me.

 Hosianna Mantra by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.17 | 324 ratings

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Hosianna Mantra
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Floaty and serene like a cloud: 7/10

This soothing and borderline meditative release by krautrockers POPOL VUH back in 1972 harnessed widespread acclaim for its new-ageish approach to music. Featuring two short and two long songs and clocking around 37 minutes, HOSIANNA MANTRA is mostly ambient music with heavy influences of neoclassical compositions and style. The record's characteristic is the ethereal atmosphere created by gentle guitar sweeps accompanied by constant piano playing and occasional soprano female vocals (by occasional I mean half of the time).

Now, for all its innovativeness and creative approach to ambient music by using (progressive) rock instruments and even so making minimalistic compositions, it's rather troubling that HOSIANNA MANTRA feels like a 37-minute-long act rather than an album with four allegedly distinct tracks. The quartet sounds too similar, with very little to differ among themselves, and eventually the repetitiveness - a la drone, as aforementioned - gets dragging and dull. It doesn't go as far as becoming unbearable, it just stops feeling enjoyable to listen to after a while.

Still, POPOL VUH's masterpiece is digestible if correctly approached (and by that I mean digested in more than one listen) and is open to revisits that might be often even. What won't matter is which track to check, after all, they're the same.

 Hosianna Mantra by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.17 | 324 ratings

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Hosianna Mantra
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by ProgAlia

5 stars Hosianna Mantra marked a significant shift both in structure and melody for Popol Vuh. The material that followed this masterpiece was more or less based on the blueprint created here. The spiritual nature of this record and the use of exotic instruments combined with classical ones placed Popol Vuh at the forefront of the New Age and contemporary World Music genres that would develop over the years. this album is an amazing, yet overlooked record which gives so much from its rather sparse structure, it's no wonder it influenced so many bands to come. It is a must listen for fans of New Age and World Music, but also for any avid music fan.
 Cobra Verde (OST) by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.40 | 23 ratings

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Cobra Verde (OST)
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by lothda

5 stars The last Werner Herzog soundtrack by Popol Vuh features only music that actually appears in the film. One non-Popol Vuh track is also included. The haunting melodies are Popol Vuh at their very best. I had listened to the album many times before I watched the film. Needless to say, the listening experience was considerably enhanced when I could relate the music to the actual scenes in the film. The final track, "Hab Mut, bis daß die Nacht mit Ruh' und Stille kommt" (Have courage until the night with calm and quiet comes), is a masterpiece, the ultimate relaxation music for me. Five stars for this beautiful album.
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