Rock Review Vinyl

Popol Vuh: The Early Years Boxed

Title: The Essential Album Collection Vol.1

Label: BMG

Classic krautrock all the way from Munich and all the way from 1970 when Popol Vuh were initially formed. They were the first German group to use the Moog-synthesiser but that was partly because the main man, Florian Fricke (who died in 2001), had a healthy bank account. Any musician with more than a fiver in their pockets is a rarity in music, as you know.

As this is Vol.1, then you’d expect the group’s earlier works and you’d be right to a degree. What you get here, remastered by Popol Vuh members Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fiedler are Affenstunde (1970, the debut), Hosianna Mantra (1972, the third album), Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1974, the fifth album), Aguirre (1975, a soundtrack) and Nosferatu (1978, another soundtrack). Bonus cuts are included. 

Popol Vuh: The Early Years Boxed

The general musical themes within the krautrock umbrella include ambient, soundscape, prog and world music. 

Popol Vuh: The Early Years Boxed

In mastering terms, there is a slightly fuzzy aspect to the sound which betrays the electronic instruments used in this era. If you have ever seen a soft gauze filter placed over a Hollywood movie camera, intended to give the female lead a more romantic and softer look, then you’ll know what I mean. 

Popol Vuh: The Early Years Boxed

The effect is definitely of the time and perfectly suitable and expected so even harsher, more cutting midrange synth crescendos have an ever so slightly rolled off treble feel to them. As I say though as expected so nothing to worry about. In a similar way, the music doesn’t contrast starkly with a no-noise backdrop as you might hear on modern recordings but tends to emerge from a soft cloud of synth-based, low level distortion. You’ve even hear some friendly feedback-type effects from the synths to add spice. You could say, therefore, that the mastering is wholly sympathetic. I approve.

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  • Reply
    26th May 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Got this myself Paul only a while back. I’ve always been a Vuh fan and have everything they ever brought out on vinyl. So why did I buy the box set? The magic mantra : Remastered! We tend to slip up every time lol! Anyway imagine my total surprise when listening to Aguirre over on Side Two (Vergegenwaerttigung) to discover a completely different track! Then I remembered. This track was originally a long cosmic synth piece which featured on the original issue, which, due to poor pressing issues, was left off subsequent releases. So this was actually the very first time I got to listen to this near mythical piece despite having three ‘spare’ copies! Of course there’s absolutely no indication whatsoever on the sleeve about this.

    Anyway thanks for the review. One cannot have enough of Florian Fricke’s muse despite the fact that some people just don’t get it. But, thankfully, he did and the world is a far better place with his music still in circulation. The sound has a slightly meatier aspect to it too than before and sounds exactly as you describe.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      27th May 2019 at 10:39 am

      Excellent – thanks for the extra info Dermot!

  • Reply
    27th May 2019 at 11:33 am

    Thanks Paul!

    I forgot to mention that even though that track I mentioned above is different for the box set it still retains the same title!

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