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Revisited & Remixed 1970-1999

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Album Review

Popol Vuh were one of the first Krautrock bands to turn their focus — thanks to their late founder, lone constant member, and musical director, Florian Fricke — to ambient music (a full half-decade before Eno called it that) and ethnic fusions of various sorts. They released almost two dozen albums, scored a handful of films by Werner Herzog — including Nosferatu and Aguirre, Wrath of God — and continually experimented with form, tone, context, and format. A decade after Fricke's death, the German SPV imprint celebrates his legacy with this double-disc set. The first features a smattering of Popol Vuh tunes from throughout their tenure. It makes for compelling listening despite an apparent paradox: Fricke and company conceived of recordings as albums (as well as scores), so hearing tracks placed outside that context would — theoretically at least — be an erratic listening exercise. It's not. In fact, it's sequenced beautifully. The second disc pays tribute to Popol Vuh via a set of remixes by a wide assortment of producers and DJs. These include Peter Kruder's slow, ambient dub re-creation of "Aguirre I/II [Lacrima Di Rei Edit]" and Moritz von Oswald's reworking of "Gärten Pharaos [Dark Development Edit]" from the same soundtrack. Oswald's version features throbbing percussion in the lower registers with genuinely subtle vocal effects and a high-pitched synth jabbing in and out of the mix seemingly at random. Elsewhere, Stereolab remix "Hosianna Mantra," keeping the chorus and original instrumentation before injecting a guitar that eventually takes the proceedings over. Other participants include Mouse on Mars, A Critical Mass, Thomas Fehlmann, Haswell & Hecker, Miko Vainio, Alex Barck, and Roland Appel. Usually, remix projects like this one are very mixed bags in terms of quality. That said, perhaps due to the open-ended nature of Fricke's and Popol Vuh's source material, this set is very consistent. The collection also includes liner notes by Fricke contemporary and friend Klaus Schulze.


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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Revisited & Remixed 1970-1999, Popol Vuh
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