Monday, February 23, 2015

Popol Vuh - 1970 - Affenstunde

Popol Vuh

01. Ich mache einen Spiegel: (21:05)
...1) Dream part 4 - 8:40
...2) Dream part 5 - 4:50
...3) Dream part 49 - 7:35
02. Affenstunde (18:57)

Bonus (CD version):
03. Train Through Time 10:31

- Florian Fricke / Moog synthesizer
- Bettina / cover design, tablas
- Frank Fiedler / synthesizers, mixdown
- Holger Trülzsch / percussion

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 Japanese soprano 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.

 Impressive debut with a mysterious, religious, weird electronic album about human being, where man becomes man. Florian Fricke experiments the opportunities of the Moog synth to create a whole album around atmospheric, strange electronic effects. The result is unique and the approach was new in popular music. The "Dream" series are enigmatic titles, a manifesto of experimental sounds treated by the "electronic". The first track starts with concrete noises taken from the nature, then comes bizarre long continuous forms augmented by circular "cosmic" sounds. The second track directly follows the previous composition without any transition. Frantic "ethnic" drums dominates the tune, it's purely shamanistic." Dream part 3" delivers abstracted, meditative, scary sounds produced by the Moog synth (very closed to the seminal "zeit" by TD). "Affenstunde" is absolutely magic; a captivating "ethnic" composition which provides an immersive dialogue between possessed acoustic percussions and electronic loops, textured patterns. The second part of the tune reminds me Terry Riley's "Persian surgery dervishes" with its endless hypnotic organ loops. The bonus track ("train through time") on the SPV reissue is a powerful, percussive / repetitive track which progressively meditatizes the listener. The track has similar psycho-acoustic effects than Gottsching's marvellous guitar trance-like work in his "inventions". To sum up things Affenstunde is milestone in progressive electronic music, culminating at the top of the most creative rock albums of the last century.

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