Popol Vuh - "Letzte Tage - Letzte Nächte"
Florian Fricke, piano;
Daniel Fichelscher, guitars, percussion, drums;
Djong Yun, vocal; with Renate Knaup, vocal
Popol Vuh is one of my more favored Krautrock bands, who at their height displayed an exquisite blend of spirituality, emotional power, and mystery in their music often lacking in other works of the genre. This disc is another great argument for how 30 minutes of captivating music can trounce a 50-60 minute recording of mediocre fare. There seems to be more reverb on this recording then on previous Popol Vuh albums, creating spindly guitar lines, jagged percussion, and a heightened sense of grandeur that reaches in and grabs a hold of the listener. Daniel Fichelscher, who was Fricke's main collaborator in Popol Vuh and also the ex-drummer of Amon Düül II, especially makes his presence known here. This is in both a compositional (he co-wrote three of the songs) and instrumental sense; to date, this is the one Popol Vuh album I've heard where he noticeably overshadows Fricke. This work also has considerably more involvement in the vocal department than previous Popol Vuh albums.
Most of the vocals are handled excellently by Djong Yun, with a voice that strolls through the moonlight in "Kyrie." However, Fichelscher's ex-bandmate Renate Knaup, vocalist for Amon Düül II, also shows up near the end of the album. Never to me has Knaup's voice sounded as humanly vulnerable and sweet as it does singing the incredible title track. If ever a song made you want to wake at dawn and scream into the sunrise with joy, this is it. If you want to compare both gals' voices, by the way, listen to the reprise entitled "Haram Dei": Knaup's Teutonic, more accented vocal is prominent in the left channel, whereas Yun's original vocal track, more clearer and angelic, is prominent in the right. Out of all the Popol Vuh albums I've heard thus far, this is probably my favorite. A truly emotional work that gets better with repeated listens.
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