Popol Vuh - Future Sound Experience

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Mystic Records
Catalog Number: MYS CD 151
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:12:00

Popol Vuh was a name I'd heard many a time, but had never, to my knowledge, heard any of their material. Thus I come to the latest release by Popol Vuh with fresh ears. I cannot compare it to Popol Vuh of the past or other Florian Fricke material. Future Sound Experience was recorded in 1993 and had a limited release then. This new Mystic Records edition, released this past January, has been remastered and additional material added to link the albums 8 tracks together. It was released a few weeks after Fricke's death the end of last December.

Fricke is also known for his soundtrack work on Werner Herzog's Aguirre, Nosferatu, and Cobra Verde, as well as for the "first ever experimental album built around the Moog synthesizer," Affenstunde (1970). On Future Sound Experience, Fricke is again manipulating his Moog, along with Holger Tr¨lzch on percussion, Frank Fieldler on synthesizers (too), and also Bettina Fricke and Gerhard Augustin.

While it's ambient, it is not album designed to be played as mere background music. There is too much going on in the layered textures, such that it requires conscious listening. You are to sit back comfortably, with headphones firmly placed on your head, and be carried along. One can see, though I don't know if its true, how artists like Steve Roach, Robert Rich, etc. might have been influenced by Fricke. In "Gutes Land" we get undulating sonic manipulations like time-lapse photography of clouds, while electronic effects drift in and out like were receiving signals from outer space. Later, an acoustic guitar is strummed, adding some warmer colors to this otherwise grayish painting. The imagery of "Gutes Land" is stark, desolate, and yet one suspects abundant with life that has hidden somewhere. Some of that life emerges when "Kleiner Krieger" begins, but this emergence is tentative. A guitar still strums, but the sonic clouds have dissipated, perhaps cleared, leaving only clear, starry skies. Atmospheres are still there, but much subtler. Of course, I don't know if this is the imagery that Fricke imagined when composing these pieces, since they are rerecordings of pieces from earlier Popol Vuh albums. So as to not break my flow of thought however, I'll delineate that later.

With "Kleiner Krieger" ... as we hear voices and percussion, we find the world about us coming alive, as if morning has come and the day has begun. The voices (Bettina Fricke) are quite beautiful...warm and folky. They are voices that aren't quite operatic... and yet there is something hauntingly familiar about their tone... church chorus-like. These do become much more choral and church like with "Morgengruss" (translated, "Morning Greeting"). With percussion (pounding drums) coming to the forefront, though we aren't right there with them, the chorus recedes a bit... While the region that fascinated Fricke was South American (Popol Vuh refers to a post-Mayan text of the Quiche Indians), these voices seem very much European, especially when the men's chorus comes in ...not Gregorian, but surely that term comes to mind. Later, with "Liedklagen" we get a more energetic piece that sounds like a mix of medieval, Middle Eastern, African and Native American rhythms. Certainly, it is rhythmic enough that you could dance to it -- though saying so brings to mind "stereotypical" images of both a veil dance and of persons ceremoniously dancing in a circle around a campfire... flute-like notes bring in a slight Celtic feel. Running an often-imprecise Alta Vista/Systran translation on the title - I don't speak German - we get "song complaint" which would be more accurately translated as a lament, I suppose. But "Reines Herz" ("Pure Heart") which follows is much darker, funereal in a way. It is less celebratory and more reverential. As if the "regular folks" have now been joined by their esteemed leader, and the merriment must be tempered. Not that "Liedklagen" was as if they were partying without care. "Weinen Und Lachen" is next; translated it means (approximately) "Wines And Laughter" though it is neither. It is a return to the more sedate and church like music of "Kleiner Krieger" and "Morgengruss." Halfway in, it is a little livelier, with a gentle piano harmonized, it seems, with keys. Think of "Us And Them" by Pink Floyd with a dab of Vangelis' piano parts in "Chariots Of Fire" played a third slower.

"Tanz" is the big closer, timed at 11:58. Percussion crashes all about, yet leisurely. We get a shimmery background against which bass, guitar, and keys are played against - strongly Middle Eastern in flavour, it is another invitation to dance ("Tanz" = dance). Here we get childlike voices, chanting... many times, by the way, Peter Gabriel came to mind in terms of the world-music aspects to his solo work. But, "Tanz" also dips back to "Weinen Und Lachen" rhythmically and with the use of piano, here singled. Flute-like keyboards muse in the background. The village elders watching the kids play in the distance, too far away to be heard, but visible enough to make them momentarily wistful for the carefree youth. We move away from this scene for the last two plus minutes of the track, where we get a wider view. Light, lyrical piano flourishes underscore quietly keening guitar, atmospheric keys of various shadings, and some violin or cello like string effects. In a way, it is like night has fallen, the day has ended...

"Gutes Land," "Kleiner Krieger," and "Morgengruss" appeared on the band's 1974 release Einsjäger & Siebenjäger, in significantly shorter versions. From what I have been able to gather, the remaining tracks were original to the 1993 version of Future Sound Experience.

Great stuff, really. At least I think so. Recommended to all electronic, world, and ambient music fans or those who could be.

Gutes Land (9:04) / Kleiner Krieger (9:41) / Morgengruss (9:47) / Hungern Und Duersten (8:35) / Liedklagen (5:45) / Reines Herz (5:12) / Weinen Und Lachen (8:07) / Tanz (11:58)

Florian Fricke
Holger Trülzsch
Frank Fiedler
Bettina Fricke
Gerhard Augustin

Affenstunde (1971)
In Den Gärten Pharaos (1972)
Hosianna Mantra (1973)
Seligpreisungen (1973)
Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1975)
Das Hohelied Salomos (1975)
Florian Fricke: Die Erde Und Ich Sind Eins (ltd) (1975)
Music From The Film Aguirre (1976)
Letze Tage - Letze Nächte (1976)
Yoga (1976)
Perlenklange (1976)
Herz Aus Glas - Coeur De Verre (1976)
Coeur De Verre (1977)
Singet, Denn der Gesang Vertreibt die Wolfe... (1977)
Br¨der Des Schattens - Söhne Des Lichts (1978)
On The Way To a Little Way - Nosferatu (1978)
Die Nacht Der Seele: Tantric Songs (1979)
Sei Still, Wisse Ich Bin (1980)
Fitzcarraldo (1982)
Music from Werner Herzog's Films Soundtracks (1982)
Agape-Agape, Love-Love (1983)
Spirit Of Peace (1985)
Cobra Verde (1987)
Der Gesang Der Engel (1988)
Florian Fricke (1990)
For You & Me (1991)
Best of Popol Vuh - From Films of W.H. (1993)
Florian Fricke Plays Mozart (1994)
City Raga (1994)
Movie Music (1994)
Soundtracks from Werner Herzog (1996)
Shepherd's Symphony (1997)
Messa Di Orfeo (1998)
Future Sound Experience (2001)

Genre: Electronic

Origin DE

Added: July 14th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 569
Language: english


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