Sunday, June 27, 2010

Popul Vuh - City Raga

Popol Vuh are pioneers of "new age" music. Not that John Tesh kind of "new age," but music that moves the soul...instead of making you want to move out of earshot. Lead by Floorian Fricke, Popol Vuh's new release, City Raga, is an eclectic mix of styles and instrumentation, once again seperating it from most of the "new age" pack, who tend to rely totally on synthesizers for their music. Fricke, along with Maya Rose (voice), Daniel Fichelscher (acoustic guitar), and Guido Hieronymus (keyboards, engineering & electric guitar) are certainly originals in a genre that falls into one of two categories: too simplistic (some - but certainly not all - Phillip Glass) or too gaudy (Tesh, Yanni). In all honesty, though, I must admit that before this album arrived on my doorstep, I had never even heard of Popol Vuh. I had heard their work before, in the 1978 Walter Herzog adaptation of Nosferatu. And after hearing City Raga, I was a bit ashamed of the fact that while I didn't know who they were, I liked their work, and never bothered to find out more. The Denver Post said that Popol Vuh "combine European classicism and Gregorian chants with acoustic-oriented sounds inspired by indigenous peoples' music." And although you can certainly hear the "indigenous peoples' music" part, this album has more in common with Deep Forest than it does with Enigma or a group of monks. The vocals of Rose, which seem to rise from your speakers effortlessly, are some of the most compelling in some time. In many ways, she's the "anti-diva." Her vocals don't make you stand back and say "Damn! That girl can sing!" as much as they bring you further into the music itself. And like the work of Tangerine Dream, who come from the same German avant-garde scene as Popol Vuh, the tracks on this album can be best described as "cinematic." Tracks like "Last Village" and "Running Deep" seem perfect for film, and it's a wonder that someone outside of Germany hasn't picked up on Popol Vuh to do more film work. If there is any other album I can compare this work to, it would have to be Tangerine Dream's Canyon Dreams album from a few years back. The album was a soundtrack for a video they scored which feature the beauty of The Grand Canyon. Likewise, City Raga could be a soundtrack for a video on...say, a rain forest or something of that nature. The music expresses an understanding for the majesty of nature that Tesh (and I know I'm guilty of Tesh-bashing, but so what) and others can't matter if they played at Red Rocks or not. - by Sean Eric McGill

Artist: Popul Vuh
Album: City Raga
Year: 1994
Quality: eac-flac,cue,log,artw.
Label: Milan
Total time: 46:22

1.  Wanted Maya (Florian Fricke/Guido Hieronymus/Maya Rose) 6:58
2.  Tears of Concrete (Florian Fricke/Guido Hieronymus/Maya Rose) 5:30
3.  Last Village (Florian Fricke/Guido Hieronymus) 7:10
4.  City Raga (Florian Fricke/Guido Hieronymus/Maya Rose) 8:11
5.  Morning Raga (Florian Fricke/Guido Hieronymus/Daniel Fichelscher) 5:39
6.  Running Deep (Florian Fricke/Guido Hieronymus) 6:04
7.  City Raga (Mystic House Mix) (Florian Fricke/Guido Hieronymus/Maya Rose) 6:47

Florian Fricke (Piano)
Daniel Fichelscher (Acoustic Guitar)
Maya Rose (Voice)
Guido Hieronymus (Keyboards)
Children Choir from Kathmandu (Vocals)

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