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Electronic Meditation
Thursday July 27th, 2017 with Sean McFee
Popol Vuh

Tonight the music of Popol Vuh, led by Florian Fricke (1946-2001) and including musicians such as Djong Yun, Daniel Fichelscher, Conny Veit, and Renate Knaup. Some of their other projects are also explored. The beautiful, minimalist, spiritual music of Popol Vuh finds a small but reverent audience in 2017. The group was named after the Popol Vuh, the book of myths belonging to the Quiche Mayans of highland Guatemala. This five-part text covers the creation of the world by the gods Huracan and Gukumatz and related myths culminating in the creation of the Quiche Maya out of corn. This book was captured in written form in the mid-1500s, and translated into Spanish in the 18th Century.
Some "pre-bonus" tracks beginning shortly before the hour.
Kleiner Krieger
Popol Vuh - Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1974) - High Tide
King Minos
Popol Vuh - Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1974) - High Tide
Early Popol Vuh features Fricke on Moog and other keyboards, and Holger Trülzsch (who also played briefly with Amon Düül II and Embryo) on percussion. In den gärten pharaos contains two sidelong tracks, with the title track being more tribal and ambient, and the track I'm playing being more ominous and creepy.
Popol Vuh - In den gärten pharaos (1971) - High Tide
Introducing some other important characters. Conny Veit was the guitarist and the only common member between the two versions of Gila. Their earliest work is some classic jamming krautrock. Their self-titled album (aka Free Electric Sound) was released in 1971. Night Works was recorded the following year live with the same lineup, but not released until 1999.

Renate Knaup was the female vocalist for the classic German group Amon Düül II. Daniel Fichelscher played drums, guitars, and sang on Amon Düül II's 1972 release "Wolf City".
Gila - Gila (1971) - Garden of Delights
Around Midnight
Gila - Night Works (1999, rec. 1972) - Garden of Delights
Amon Düül II - Wolf City (1972) - Revisited
Fricke gave up on synthesizers and sold his big Moog to Klaus Schulze, a guy listeners of the show might have heard of. For 1972's Hosianna Mantra, he focuses on shorter pieces with generally more minimalist composition and acoustic instrumentation. Djong Yun's soprano vocals would become an important part of the sound. Fricke was described as religious but not part of any church, possessed of a deep spirituality but not specific in his beliefs. The Latin Mass figures prominently in his song titles (Kyrie, Agnus Dei etc.).

Conny Veit joined on guitar for the two Popol Vuh albums in this segment, and for 1973's Seligpreisung, Daniel Fichelscher also joins on guitar and drums. Seligpreisung, based on the Gospel of Matthew, is an interesting album in that Fricke himself sings, rather than employing Djong Yun (or later Renate Knaup).

Around the same time, Conny Veit also reformed Gila, enlisting Fricke and Fichelscher to join him, so that the two bands were essentially the same musicians but with a different chief composer. "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" is a more song-oriented album than the earlier Gila and there is clearly some cross-pollination of ideas from the other musicians.
Popol Vuh - Hosianna Mantra (1972) - High Tide
Selig Sind, Die Da Hier Weinen
Popol Vuh - Seligpreisung (1973) - High Tide
Little Smoke
Gila - Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (1973) - Garden of Delights
Conny Veit left Popol Vuh at this point, and on these next albums Daniel Fichelscher is the sole guitarist. "Gutes Land" includes the Agnus Dei theme that appears at least three times on Popol Vuh albums. The title track on this album is stunning but omitted for time constraints (it is 20 minutes long). "Das Hohelied Salamos" keeps much of the same formula but adds sitar and tabla for a more overtly eastern feel.

At this point I break the strict chronological order of the albums to include the last "rock" album, Letzte Tage Letzte Nächte. For this album the group is joined by Renate Knaup as an additional vocalist. The apocalyptic title track is mandatory here.
Gutes Land
Popol Vuh - Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1974) - High Tide
Du Tranke Mich Mit Deinen Kussen
Popol Vuh - Das Hohelied Salamos (1975) - High Tide
Letzte Tage, Letzte Nächte
Popol Vuh - Letzte Tage, Letzte Nächte (1976) - High Tide
Fricke got hooked up with Werner Herzog and provided music for a number of his films, Aguirre and Harz aus Glas being two of them. These soundtrack sometimes included recycled Popol Vuh motifs from earlier albums. Die Nacht Der Seele - Tantric Songs is a mostly instrumental album, but I've included a vocal track here.
Popol Vuh - Aguirre (1976) - High Tide
Der Ruf
Popol Vuh - Harz aus Glas (1977) - High Tide
Wo Bist Du
Popol Vuh - Die Nacht der Seele (1979) - High Tide
To conclude, one of the great Tangerine Dream tracks from their classic album "Zeit". This was the last gasp of Fricke's efforts with the Moog, and it was not wasted! As I described it before, for me something like Zeit is the true "space-rock". It sounds like waiting for the end of the universe.
Birth of Liquid Plejades
Tangerine Dream - Zeit - Esoteric
Klaus Schulze's words in 2003:

"It's always sad to write about colleagues who have left our midst too soon. We revolutionized music in many ways during the Sixties and Seventies, influencing many musicians who came after us, who are famous today and will have an impact on the music of generations to come.

Florian was and remains to be an important forerunner of contemporary ethnic and religious music. He chose electronic music and his big Moog, which I bought from him later, to free himself from the restraints of traditional music, but soon discovered that he didn't get a lot 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 pattern of electronic music into the language of acoustic ethno music. All this can only be achieved if you invest all your soul and devote yourself totally to your music. Energy and vitality are sacrificed, without compromise... something that I miss very much among today's musicians/composers - but perhaps things are approached on a more superficial and frightened level these days. Our attitude was very radical and inconsiderate, even when it came to our own health and morals... nothing but the music mattered!

Today I realize that dedicated musicians from those days, like ourselves, live on borrowed time form the age of 50; some more, other less. But what we have created makes up for spending less time on this planet.

Farewell, Florian!"
Interactive CKCU
Wolf City-one of the grails of prog

9:15 AM, July 27th, 2017