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Bron: Sounds, may 2nd 1981
Auteur: Sandy Robertson

Popul Vuh - Sei Still, Wisse Ich Bin

Popul Vuh

Sei still, wisse ICH BIN (Innovative Communication Import)

Popul Vuh, aside from being the audio interpreters of West German filmmaker Werner Herzog’s startingly original and beautiful way of seeing things, continue to amaze in their own right. Months and months ago I reviewed the group’s soundtrack for Herzog’s Nosferatu, a brilliant piece of maximum minimalism if you will, but since their records never get released here (a crime) I hadn’t really given them much further thought until I saw this latest import platter in the racks. What a boon!

Herzog looks at things with a fresh baby eye. And Popul Vuh take rock instruments and play them like no one else ever did. For underneath the baton of their guiding light and figurehead Florian Fricke. Popul Vuh make utterly wonderful (in the truest sense of the word) music. Under the banner of Klaus Schulze productions they may well go, but they are not a synthesizer group! The desert scene on the sleeve, with its white-robed men hints at ethnomusical dabbling. Since I can’t read German, I can only scream for explanations. And how about an interview? To imagine ‘Sei Still’, imagine feedback sweet as honey.

If you’ve ever attempted to put into words for  a friend what makes a Herzog movie so unique, and failed, maybe you’ll be able to sympathise with the way I can’t quite capture the pulse here. So many labels yet  they can’t be labelled, vocals cold as fresh snow falling.

There’s a choral, quasi-religious tone-poem groove. It’s relaxing without being dull, gentle without being moronic. It’s like watching the ocean at sunset, the desert at night, the sky at dawn.  The last track on side 2, ‘… als lebten die Engel auf Erden‘, has an intro that momentarily caught my ear and made me think of The Beach Boys on ‘Do  it again’, but that’s just the way music is: it allows the mind to free-associate while rendering the critical faculties somewhat redundant.

Think deep, think Tom Verlaine, thin sleep, think narcotic intensity. Think for yourself. Think about buying this record. Think about learning German, ‘Wehe Khorazin’? Yeah.

Sandy Robertson