Popol Vuh – Seligpreisung

After the surprising change of style with their previous album, “Hosiana Mantra”, Popol Vuh double down on the new sound. Once again Fricke is on piano and harpsichord, oboe player Robert Eliseu is back as is guitarist Conny Veit and tamboura player Klaus’ Wiese. However, Korean singer Djong Yun is absent with Fricke doing vocals instead and the group has an important new addition, Daniel Fichelscher on guitar and percussion who had previously played with Amon Duul II and percussion supergroup Niagra.

Of course, there’s many tranquil moments where all we hear is the sound of Fricke’s piano (unless your record has seen better days) but it all builds towards sublime moments of harmonious beauty. The ‘percussion’ mostly sounds like straight up drums for the majority of the time and given that it’s married to twin guitar soloing it could almost be a rock band but it isn’t because Fricke’s pursuit of divine otherness steers it towards something else.

It’s not new age or middle of the road blandness, it’s a sort of sonic expression of bliss, a composition of deeply meditative music expressed in the format of a rock band. It seems to be an album that exists only to be between the hours of 12am and 12pm. Waking up or winding down it fits into those subliminal mindspaces with it’s tightly composed jams. How is that even a thing?

Some reissues include a very nice bonus track called “Be In Love” which while excellent, clearly doesn’t belong on this album at all. It’s got Djong Yun on vocals and a very classical violin going on. I am very glad it’s out there and not stuck in an archive but I can’t help but feel that most of these Popol Vuh bonus tracks belong in an out takes compilation album of their own so the original albums can flow the way they were originally intended.

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