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Affenstunde

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Album Review

Affenstunde is the debut recording by composer and multi-instrumentalist Florian Fricke's Popol Vuh, named for the sacred Mayan text. It was issued on the Liberty label in Germany in 1970 and has been in print, off and on, in Europe, Japan, and even in the United States sporadically since that time. For those completely dislocated by Tangerine Dream's early experiments in sonic terror and dynamics, Affenstunde is somehow akin yet very different. Fricke's synthesizers are more interested in pulse and circularity, not utter dislocation and shock. The music here all seems of a piece, despite the different selection titles and the single percussion piece on the set, "Dream, Pt. 5" — primitive hand drums run through the middle of the mix. Other than this selection, the entire album would have made a fantastic soundtrack for Andrei Tarkovsky's film Solaris. The sheer momentum of the title cut, which closes the album and integrates spacious electronic soundscapes, ever deepening tonalities, found taped choral vocals whispering in the background, and percussion is one of the most provocative pieces to come from the Krautrock generation. This is an auspicious debut, which holds up wonderfully in the 21st century.

Biography

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 the...
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Affenstunde, Popol Vuh
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