Monday, 23 May 2011

Popol Vuh Revisited & Remixed, 1970-1999 (SPV)

Popol Vuh is a corpus of mytho-historical narratives of the post classic Quické kingdom in Guatemala's western highlands. The title translates as "Book of the People" (what would we do without Wikipedia). More importantly Popol Vuh were also a pioneering German kraut rock band who split up after the death of the band's founder, Florian Fricke, 10 years ago.

The band were way ahead of their time and their first album Affenstunde, released in 1970 and using the, then new, sounds of the Moog synthesizer coupled with ethnic percussion, was one of the earliest ambient albums and also an early example of global fusion. Later piano led musical explorations of religious themes are also deemed pioneering recordings in the 'New Age' genre, but please don't hold that against them. Werner Herzog employed the band to soundtrack several of his films including Nosferatu, Aguirre and Cobra Verde with Fricke even making a screen appearance in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

To mark the 10th anniversary of Florian Fricke's passing SPV are releasing a 2CD compilation featuring one disc highlighting their ambient and electronica side plus selected soundtrack work from some of Werner Herzog's classic films and a second CD of remixes by a really well selected bunch of contemporary bands and producers including Stereolab, Moritz von Oswald, Peter Kruder and Mike Vainio amongst others.

Now there is no getting away from the fact that a lot of the original cuts sound a bit dated but it must never be forgotten how mind blowing and inspirational to a generation of musicians those tracks actually were. Apart from ambient trainspotters most people are going to cite Brian Eno as ambient's main pioneer but he didn't start going all musically horizontal until five years after these boys.

So CD1 is an interesting historical musical document but the remixes drag these seminal tracks into the new millenium and are destined to inform a new generation about Popol Vuh. Look out for emotive building deep house from Peter Kruder, bass heavy hypnotic grooves from the Orb's Thomas Fellmann, our personal favourite an epic sprawling prog rock inspired mix from Alex Barck, a deep house dubscape from Mortiz von Oswald, an eight bit beat adventure from Mouse On Mars and a lighter more playful rework from Stereolab amongst other worthy reworkings from the likes of Mike Vainio, Haswell & Hecker and A Critical Mass amongst others. The double CD with remixes will be hitting the shops in June.

If you want a taster of some of the bands original works then head over to their soundcloud page

Here's a little video taster of some of the remixes using grainy old Super-8 footage of the band in their heyday:

Popol Vuh Myspace
SPV website