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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)

3.15 | 102 ratings
Affenstunde
1970
3.99 | 192 ratings
In Den Gärten Pharaos
1971
4.16 | 315 ratings
Hosianna Mantra
1972
4.06 | 138 ratings
Seligpreisung
1973
4.01 | 124 ratings
Einsjäger & Siebenjäger
1974
3.72 | 97 ratings
Das Hohelied Salomos
1975
4.03 | 149 ratings
Aguirre
1975
4.15 | 126 ratings
Letzte Tage - Letzte Nächte
1976
2.77 | 37 ratings
Yoga
1976
3.65 | 49 ratings
Herz Aus Glas
1977
4.00 | 85 ratings
On The Way To A Little Way
1978
3.56 | 60 ratings
Brüder Des Schattens - Söhne Des Lichts
1978
3.85 | 51 ratings
Die Nacht Der Seele - Tantric Songs
1979
3.47 | 43 ratings
Sei Still, Wisse ICH BIN
1981
3.38 | 36 ratings
Agape-Agape Love-Love
1984
3.11 | 26 ratings
Spirit Of Peace
1985
3.40 | 23 ratings
Cobra Verde (OST)
1987
2.67 | 20 ratings
For You And Me
1991
2.63 | 18 ratings
City Raga
1995
1.76 | 17 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
4.15 | 30 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
4.04 | 13 ratings
Hosianna Mantra / Tantric Songs
1991
2.59 | 9 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 | 2 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
 In Den Gärten Pharaos by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.99 | 192 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
4.16 | 315 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
4.16 | 315 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 | 192 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
3.15 | 102 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
4.16 | 315 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
4.16 | 315 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.
 Affenstunde by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.15 | 102 ratings

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Affenstunde
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The bitter influence that World War II left on Germany proved awfully difficult to get rid of. It was up to the first post-war generation to make a change. 1968's protests in Europe helped the contemporary youth to unite and creating a completely new subculture or a class of young, intellectual, open-minded individuals with left-wing political views, who rejected the musical influence of British and American psychedelia in search of their own identity. One of such people was Florian Fricke, a student of piano, composition, and directing at the Conservatories in Freiburg and Munich. Being a disciple of the composer Rudolf Hindemith, the brother of slightly better-known Paul Hindemith, helped Fricke in expanding his musical horizons. At that time, he also became fascinated with musical styles such as free jazz and ethnic music. In 1969, he purchased one of the very first Moog synthesizers to appear on the market. The same year, he founded the band Popol Vuh, whose name derived from an ancient Mayan manuscript (the title translating into The Book Of the Community), together with Holger Trülzsch, a percussionist, and Frank Fiedler, who dealt with the technical aspect of the group's sound. Their debut album, Affenstunde was released in 1970 under the Liberty label.

The album comprises two side-long epics: "Ich Mache Einen Spiege", which is divided into three movements, and the title track, "Affenstunde", respectively. The first part of the first suite, contrarily named "Dream Part 4", opens with a static drone including various swirling electronic and pre-recorded effects passing through. These give somewhat of an industrial effect , often sounding like technical devices. This part remains quite unchanged except for very slow frequency pulses, sometimes influencing the sound in making it a bit heavier, sometimes much lighter. Next up, "Dream Part 5" is devoted to showcasing Holger Trülzsch's percussion abilities. A person credited as "Bettina" plays Indian tabla, which really enriches the overall feel of the track, adding a very exotic, Eastern flavor. At the same time, it also points the way towards Popol Vuh's future influences. The rhythmic pace of Part 5 is steady with numerous variations. "Dream Part 49" follows the previous movements with silent, slowly pulsating sounds of Florian Fricke's Moog III synthesizer, which at times bring the sound of mellow church organ to mind. Once again, the texture remains rather static, however, towards the end, the instrument appears as if more "self-assured", becoming slightly louder at the ridge of the synthesizer wave, before descending into complete silence.

"Affenstunde" begins slightly more confidently with a steady tabla rhythm accompanied by a dark "cloud" from Fricke's synthesizer. As the piece slowly grows, one is able to hear distant effects struggling to break through. Suddenly, the beat fades away and the synth is left alone. Then, Florian Fricke plays a striking modal solo with a beautiful timbre of Moog's distinctive triangle-wave based on a static drone. This is really where his instrumental abilities come through. Tabla and various percussion instruments appear once more, but not really in the form of laying down any rhythm, but rather accompanying Fricke in his solo part, adding a bit more variety, and working in favor of dark, soporific, foggy atmospherics. In this wonderful way, the piece slowly starts to fall silent, as if falling asleep and wanting to say "good night, I sincerely hope you have enjoyed your journey."

The 2004 CD reissue of the release on SPV recordings offers one more bonus track, "Train Through Time." The piece lasts for ten minutes and is kept in a very similar fashion as the tracks from the original issue of the album, showcasing the fantastic percussion work as well as many fascinating effects from Florian Fricke's Moog.

How are musical revolutions started? It often comes down to one groundbreaking album - a one-of-a-kind. bold, uncompromising musical statement created by one or more unorthodox, forward-thinking musicians. And Affenstunde undoubtedly deserves a title of a groundbreaking work. Its peaceful, quiet nature paved the way for genres such as ambient or drone. It's not without its flaws, for sure, but is definitely worth acknowledgement and appreciation. Above all, Affensunde is at least partly responsible for laying foundation for a revolution of the German youth culture. This is not an easy work to appreciate, one might highly likely find it boring and requiring minimal musical abilities. However, I would not say this album is about showcasing skill, but rather about building atmospherics and drawing different sonic landscapes. That being said, it does require a considerably different approach from the listener. Anyhow, Popol Vuh's debut is a truly essential krautrock album and is very highly recommended!

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