1. “Selig sind die, die da hungem. Selig sind die, da dursten nach Gerechtigkeit. Ja, sie sollen satt werden”. (6:00)
2. “Tanz der Chassidim” (3:15)
3. “Selig sind die, die da hier weinen. Ja, sie sollen später lachen”. (5:08)
1. “Selig sind die, die da willing arm sind. Ja, ihrer ist das Himmelreich”. (3:12)
2. “Selig sind die, die da leid Tragen. Ja, sie sollen getröstet werden”. (3:39)
3. “Selig sind die Sanftmütigen. Ja, sie werden einst die Erde erben”. (2:31)
4. “Selig sind die, die da reinen Herzens sind. Ja, sie sollen Gott schauen”. (2:33)
5. “Ja, sie sollen Gottes Kinder heißen. Agnus die, agnus die”. (2:42)
Robert Eliscu – Oboe.
Daniel Fichelscher – Electric guitar on A2, 3, B1 and 3.
Florian Fricke – Cembalo, piano and vocals.
Conny Veit – Electric guitar and 12-string guitar.
Klaus Wiese – Tamboura.
Artwork: Cover by Ingo Trauer & Richard J.Rudow
Photography: Bettina Fricke & Kranz
If there is such a reassuring prospect as an afterlife, then Popol Vuh‘s divine-styler Florian Fricke would surely have cemented his rightful place in the eternal, empyreal, choir above.
Covering all bases, just in case, Fricke’s reconnoitre’s into the heart of Mayan mysticism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, guarented him a fair hearing upon reaching all these religion’s final nirvanas.
Fricke thumbed through the New Testament for inspiration and solace; falling upon the cannoical gospel of Matthew, and lifting its blessed text for Popol Vuh’s fourth outing, Seligpreisung. Loosely translated as “beatitude” (‘happiness of the highest kind’) or “song of praise”, Seligpreisung is a continuous 30-minute long service, built around Matthew’s profound utterances and writings: Matthew’s gospel – the first book of the New Testament – followed the life of Christ, from his ministry to crucifixion, and resurrection.
Coalesced into adumbrate passages, each of the 8-tracks represents Matthew’s pronouncements and declarations on the worthy; those he considers the righteous: from the meek to the poor. For example the ongoing leitmotif, “Selig sind die, die da hunger. Selig sind die, die da dursten nacho Gerechtigkeit. Ja, sie sollen stat warden” – a right old mouthful -translates as, “Blessed are those which are hungrey. Blessed are those that are after justice. Yes, they are to become fuller”.
Continuing with the same elegiac mellifluous exhultions as on previous releases, Popol Vuh’s diaphanous psalms finally break-out of their suffused ambient constraints into bouts of meditative acid-rock; as the drum-kit is introduced for the first time. Sharing similar spiritual harmonics and builds as Amon Duul II‘s, “stairway-to-OM”, opus Wolf City; Seligpreisung uses a familiar exotic, eastern, musical palette; with reverent pinning oboe and the raga inspired soul-stirring charms of, both, the harpsichord-like cembalo, and lute-toned tamboura all directing us towards the holy calling of Tibet.
Subtly transforming the dynamics with a more progressive, flowing, feel, Fricke also took a step backwards, reverting to a more traditional – if not classical – template; led by the magestic atavistic tones of a grand piano. This shift was partly influenced by the introduction of Amon Duul II’s Daniel Fichelscher, who contributed swathes of plaintive electric guitar, and, those newly added élan drums, to the Popol Vuh transicent sound.
Whether through mutual appreciation or due to the efflux of ideas criss-crossing between the two bands, Popol Vuh’s resident star-gazer lead-guitarist, Conny Veit, also reformed his dismantled prog-rock band Gila; bringing both Fricke and Fichelscher along to help produce that groups most acclaimed work – the Native Indian history of America inspired book – Bury My heart At Wounded Knee. Unfortunately Gila broke up again the following year (1974), but for a brief period they functioned as two groups.
Absent from this synthesis hippie-trip are the lilting choral shading vocals of Djong Yin – temporally tied-up at the time, she returned for the next album, Einjager & Seibenjager. Not entirely convinced of his own timbre, Fricke found himself forced to fill-in; yearning and placably sighing numerous hallelujahs at the quasi-alter of worship – though he makes a good job of it. With its, now male, cooing and tentative vocals, Seligpreisung peacefully lifts the spirt over its short duration; altering the main opening theme of “Holy Mountain mystical escapism meets pastoral rock” enough so that each lose bracketed track bleeds into the next; though some of these movements are used as laconic breathers and interregnums before the main narratives.
Every piece is as beautiful as the last, so highlights are difficult to single-out; the atmosphere kept at a constant heavenly quality, and the playing spread evenly: Fichelscher and Veit play some of their most soaring magical guitar paeans, whilst Fricke’s cembalo and piano tenderly weep and dance amongst the climbing melodies and chords.
It might be considered an unfair criterion with which to gauge the music of Popol Vuh by, but this album was my very first purchase of the groups artful poised soundtracking vistas, so I’ve come to love it – I’ve obviously had to work backwards, from full band line-up jamming to minimal ambience. This LP hardly shakes off the ominous trance-like state and translucent stripped blueprint of their last three records – I mean even with a fuller sound, they’re still restrained and kept in check – so consider this as the “letting-their-hair-down” experiment, or Ash Ra Tempel without the Leary-spiked incentives.