Tradition has it that most of the actors were hypnotized during the shooting of “Herz aus Glas”. Popol Vuh’s music is the perfect equivalent to Werner Herzog’s mesmerizing movie. From the first single notes of “Engel der Gegenwart” to the ongoing crescendo of “Hüter der Schwelle” and the slowly fading of “Die Gemeinschaft”, the music is spellbinding.
I admit that I’m under Florian Fricke’s spell since I saw my first Werner Herzog movie with a Popol Vuh soundtrack. It was the opening scene of “Aguirre – Der Zorn Gottes” and I was struck by how beautifully the images synchronized with the music. For a long time I hesitated to listen to the soundtracks without the accompanying movies – it seemed like a sacrilege to me to tear this entity apart but – alas! – one day I put on one of the soundtracks just for listening pleasure and it worked.
Maybe it works best with “Herz aus Glas” for two reasons mainly: On the one hand there is more music on the actual record compared to the bits of music used within the movie (The movie also features some other music, too). On the other hand the compositions on “Herz aus Glas” – maybe more than any other of Fricke’s all excellent soundtracks for Herzog’s movies – work very well as a score but they are songs, too; uplifting sonic prayers, ascending to the heavens above.
The music is full of mystery – an ethereal atmosphere provided mainly through Daniel S. Fichelscher’s multi-tracked guitar playing. And while I’m typing this to the music playing on my stereo images from Herzog’s movie come to my mind: The desperate yet dreamy villagers trying to unravel the secret of the manufacturing process for ruby glass while Hias, the clairvoyant (played by the great Josef Bierbichler) is channelling apocalyptic visions of future catastrophes. They’re all doomed, but strangely the music (just like the movie’s closing note) is hinting somewhere beyond the apocalyptic visions: “It appeared to them as a sign of hope that the birds followed them to the open sea” – and it’s that feeling of being in good hands that Fricke’s music’s providing like no other. Popol Vuh’s music is dealing with some unnamed other formerly known as GOD (in a syncretistic or universal sense). The music’s addressing one’s capability to believe in things unseen and unknown, things beyond, things that may be revealed one day, but until that day you have to BELIEVE.
Taking cues from all kind of religions and spiritual beliefs Florian Fricke’s music was a quest for the sacred – and I assume it’s that transcending quality in Popol Vuh’s music which makes people come back to the music recorded.
review by Holger Adam