Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Popol Vuh - Seligpreisung (1973)
Hosianna Mantra, the Popol Vuh album prior to Seligpreisung, is the one that always gets mentioned in hear-before-you-die lists, essential krautrock countdowns and lots of music blogs, all with good reason - it's an absoultely transcendent experience. Hosianna Mantra was the first flowering of Florian Fricke's concept of spare, richly melodic music based around piano, guitar and occasional other ethnic instruments, and an all-encompassing spiritual questing that, taken together, would last for the rest of his career with a few tweaks along the way (well, the less said about the last three Vuh albums the better).
Seligpreisung is, for my money, every bit as good as its predecessor - they complement each other so well that I genuinely can't pick a winner. Vocalist Dyong Yun was otherwise engaged, so Fricke uniquely does all the vocals himself this time around. In this way, the two albums acquire a feminine-masculine dynamic, with Seligpreisung sounding almost monastic - all the more so as it was recorded in a church, and all the lyrics/most of the song titles are derived from The Beatitudes in The Gospel of Matthew. A couple more scripture-cribbing albums would follow before Fricke got back on track with the more diverse, diffuse spirituality that he'd sketched out on Hosianna Mantra.
For me, the other key aspect to the yin-yang completeness of Hosianna Mantra and Seligpreisung is the musical progression. The latter takes a step away from the 'cosmic convalescent home' (© Julian Cope) mellowness of the former, with the guitars now much more to the fore. Conny Veit (who would shortly depart for another Gila album, taking the entire Vuh lineup with him as guests) is now joined by newcomer Daniel Fichelscher, foreshadowing how integral he was about to become to the group's sound. Some listeners feel that Fichelscher's many guitar layers came to overpower the Popol Vuh sound in the years that followed, but I can't get enough of him.
Selig Sind, Die Da Hungern. Selig Sind, Die Da Dürsten Nach Gerechtigkeit. Ja, Sie Sollen Satt Werden