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Aguirre (Original Soundtrack)

Popol Vuh

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Album Review

Florian Fricke's soundtracks always added a distinctive dimension to the films of Werner Herzog and that's especially true of his recordings for Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (starring Klaus Kinski as the most spectacularly grotesque Count Dracula ever). This CD brings together Brüder des Schattens, Söhne des Lichts and Nosferatu: Fantôme de la Nuit, two 1978 Popol Vuh albums containing material for Herzog's film. The director drew initially on the first of these records but subsequently asked Fricke for more music conveying fear and dread. In response, Fricke raided his archive of unused work — this was the origin of the second record. Featured prominently in the film, "Brüder des Schattens, Söhne des Lichts" moves from a spectral choral beginning to a lighter, almost pastoral conclusion with piano, guitar, and sitar, echoing the chiaroscuro dynamic of its title ("Brothers of Shadow, Sons of Light"). That brighter, expansive mood recurs on several tracks with a more pronounced Eastern groove: "Through Pain to Heaven," for example, with its mesmerizing interplay of guitars and droning, billowing sitar. Darker numbers like "Mantra 2" — which combines choral voices and organic drones in a mournful, subtly menacing fashion — resonate more explicitly with the film's gothic aesthetic. Among the dark tracks, the most striking pay homage to early electronic soundtrack experiments: for example, "Die Nacht der Himmel" with its spooky theremin sound and the supremely eerie "Der Ruf der Rohrflöte." To call this a soundtrack CD is slightly misleading: not all the music features in the movie and it omits non-Popol Vuh material heard in the film (portions of Wagner's "Das Rheingold" and Gounod's "Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cècile," for instance). That said, it holds together as a coherent album in its own right and includes some exceptionally strong, memorable material.


Formed: 1969 in Munich, Germany

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Of the many now-legendary artists to emerge from the Krautrock movement, few anticipated the rise of modern electronic music with the same prescience as Popol Vuh — the first German band to employ a Moog synthesizer, their work not only anticipated the emergence of ambient, but also proved pioneering in its absorption of worldbeat textures. At much the same time Popol Vuh was formed in Munich in 1969, another group of Norwegian descent adopted the same name, an endless source of confusion in...
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Aguirre (Original Soundtrack), Popol Vuh
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