Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5
Popol Vuh is the name of the Mayan holy texts. It is also the name of one of the premier krautrock band, although the mystical implications of the former meaning shine through clearly on this record. Florian Fricke, the band's leader and visionary, seems to have been trying to reach for primitive sounds through cutting-edge technology at this point of his career. He was one of the first in Germany to use a Moog synthesizer, and those extra-terrestrial sounds are often juxtaposed with walls of percussion on this collection. It still manages to come across as sound ahead of its time.
The first side of the original LP is a suite entitled "Ich Mache Einen Speigel," which translates to "I make a mirror." I suppose the shimmering synthesizer sounds and clanging percussion would certainly support this idea, but I get a very different image in my head. I see our ancestors seeking shelter in a dark, damp, and forlorn cave many years past. They tentatively creep out as the spring arrives and begin their hunting anew. Then winter arrives with the third section of the suite. Following that 20 minute piece is the eighteen-and-a-half minute long title track. It's is very good, but much more in line with the sounds of contemporary Tangerine Dream. But the fact that Fricke already had a Moog at that time and Tangerine Dream did not gives this one distinct and impressive coloring. There's a nice bonus track also present on the recent rerelease which picks up the pace a bit with some chugging synthesized train percussion, and actually makes for a pretty nice addition even considering the flow of the album
I think I'm in the minority here, but I feel that Popol Vuh began at the peak of their powers and slowly de-evolved into less-interesting and more conventional krautrock (if there is such a thing) and 70's bloated psych-rock sounds. As such, I see Affenstunde as one of the band's magnum opuses (the next one also deserves that tag) as they tear open the curtains of time to reveal mystical and otherworldly sounds.
Popol Vuh - 1970 - Affenstunde