Popol Vuh (band)
|Genres||Krautrock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, new-age, ambient, electronic|
|Labels||Liberty, Pilz, United Artists, Kosmische Kuriere, Brain, Innovative Communications|
|Past members||Florian Fricke
Popol Vuh were a German electronic avant-garde band founded by pianist and keyboardist Florian Fricke in 1969 together with Holger Trülzsch (percussion) and Frank Fiedler (recording engineer and technical assistance). Other important members during the next two decades included Djong Yun, Conny Veit, Daniel Fichelscher, Klaus Wiese and Robert Eliscu. The band took its name from the Popol Vuh, a manuscript containing the mythology of the Post-Classic Quiché Maya people of highland Guatemala and southeast Mexico; the name translates roughly as "meeting place". In the Quiché language Popol Vuh translates as: "Book of the Community", "Book of Counsel", or more literally as "Book of the People".
The first album, Affenstunde, released in 1970, can be regarded as one of the earliest space music works, featuring the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer together with ethnic percussion. This continued for only one more album, In den Gärten Pharaos, and material later to be released on the soundtrack to Aguirre, the Wrath of God, before Fricke largely abandoned electronic instruments in favor of piano-led compositions from 1972's Hosianna Mantra forward. This album also marked the start of exploring overtly religious themes rather than a more generally spiritual feeling within the music. The group evolved to include all kinds of instruments: wind and strings, electric and acoustic alike, combined to convey a mystical aura that made their music spiritual and introspective.
Popol Vuh influenced many other European bands with their uniquely soft but elaborate instrumentation, which took inspiration from the music of Tibet, Africa, and pre-Columbian America. With music sometimes described as "ethereal", they created soundscapes through psychedelic walls of sound, and are regarded as precursors of contemporary world music, as well as of new age and ambient.
The band contributed soundtracks to the films of Werner Herzog, including the aforementioned Aguirre, the Wrath of God, as well as Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde, Heart of Glass and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, in which Fricke appeared.
Florian Fricke died in Munich on 29 December 2001 and the group disbanded.
In October 2003 Klaus Schulze wrote:
- "Florian was and remains an important forerunner of contemporary ethnic and religious music. He chose electronic music and his big Moog to free himself from the restraints of traditional music, but soon discovered that he didn't get a lot out of it and opted for the acoustic path instead. Here, he went on to create a new world, which Werner Herzog loves so much, transforming the thought patterns of electronic music into the language of acoustic ethno music."
- Affenstunde (1970)
- In den Gärten Pharaos (1971)
- Hosianna Mantra (1972)
- Seligpreisung (1973)
- Einsjäger und Siebenjäger (1974)
- Das Hohelied Salomos (1975)
- Aguirre (1975)
- Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte (1976)
- Herz aus Glas (1977)
- Brüder des Schattens – Söhne des Lichts (1978)
- Nosferatu (1978)
- Die Nacht der Seele (1979)
- Sei still, wisse ICH BIN (1981)
- Agape – Agape (1983)
- Spirit of Peace (1985)
- Cobra Verde (1987)
- For You and Me (1991)
- City Raga (1995)
- Shepherd's Symphony – Hirtensymphonie (1997)
- Messa di Orfeo (1999)
Florian Fricke solo albums
- Die Erde und ich sind Eins (1983) – limited private pressing
- Florian Fricke Plays Mozart (1992) – featuring Fricke on piano playing Mozart compositions
Note: there are two distinct issues of the compilation Best of Popol Vuh – Werner Herzog. These are distinct from The Best Soundtracks from Werner Herzog Films, though the selections of tracks overlap.
- Perlenklänge: The Best of Popol Vuh (1976) – Ohr / Pilz / Kosmische Musik compilation
- Tantric Songs (1981) – featuring tracks from Die Nacht der Seele and Brüder des Schattens – Söhne des Lichts
- Fitzcarraldo (1982) – soundtrack featuring four previously released Popol Vuh compositions besides opera and traditional music
- In the Gardens of Pharao / Aguirre (1983)
- Gesang der Gesänge (1988)
- Best of Popol Vuh – Werner Herzog (1989 with 14 tracks; reissued 1993 with only 10 tracks)
- Florian Fricke (1991) – featuring tracks from Herz aus Glas (retitled) and Brüder des Schattens – Söhne des Lichts
- The Best Soundtracks from Werner Herzog Films (1991, 8 tracks)
- Best of Popol Vuh from the Films of Werner Herzog (1992, 10 tracks), contains one track (titled "We Are Aware of the Misery") from the Herzog film The Dark Glow of the Mountains, which was previously unreleased
- Sing, for Song Drives Away the Wolves (1993) – remix album
- Movie Music (1994) – 3 CD set: Aguirre, Herz aus Glas, Nosferatu
- Nicht Hoch Im Himmel (1998)
- Future Sound Experience (2002) – remix album recorded in 1993 (according to its booklet) and released after Florian Fricke's death
- 70's Progressive (2006) – SPV compilation
- On the Way to Himalaya (2006) – 3 CD set: Brüder des Schattens – Söhne des Lichts, Spirit of Peace, Die Nacht der Seele
- The Werner Herzog Soundtracks Box set (2011)
- Revisited & Remixed (1970–1999) (2011)
- Yoga (1976) - recorded by Florian Fricke with Indian musicians
- Popol Vuh Biography, Booklet to CD issue of "Popol Vuh Revisted & Remixed, 1970-1999", SPV recordings, 2011
- Michael Fuchs-Gambock, Gerhard Augustin: Booklet to CD re-issue of "Hosianna Mantra", SPV recordings, 2004
- Link text, additional text.
- Klaus Schulze, Oldau, October 7, 2003: Booklet to CD re-issue of "Hosianna Mantra", SPV recordings, 2004
- http://www.furious.com/perfect/populvuh.html (Comprehensive article & review of every album, in English)
- Popol Vuh (band) discography at Discogs