Popol Vuh seems to be like the Skull & Bones of the krautrock world—once you’ve succeeded in passing a series of entry level tests, you are suddenly granted access to this magical well of musical greatness. Their name, taken from the Popol Vuh (a manuscript containing the mythology of the Post-Classic Quiché Maya people of highland Guatemala and south east Mexico) coincidentially translates to “meeting place.” Understandably, as a measure of protecting this divine secret, Popol Vuh is one of those bands you really don’t hear much about. But bring up their name to an individual who is properly enlightened and it will elicit a response similar to a holy man hearing the lord’s true name. Formed in ’69, the group released albums up until the early aughts touching on all sorts of genres from space rock to world to electronic avant-garde. In 1976, they released their most rock-aligned album, Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte, which presents a cosmic journey from start to finish highlighted by Daniel Fischlescher’s soaring lead guitar. Discovering this band and this album was like a lifelong search coming to an end. I hope to offer the same experience to some of you.
The following songs come from Popol Vuh’s 1976 album Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte.
When Can wasn’t on the road, the legendary krautrock pioneers spent their time tirelessly experimenting away in their studio, Inner Space, located in a a century old German castle (and later in a converted cinema). Unlimited Edition, released in 1976 as an expanded version of 1974′s Limited Edition, culls unreleased songs and instrumental jams recorded at the coveted studio spaces between the years 1968-1976 featuring both of the group’s main singers (Damo Suzuki and Malcolm Mooney). Among the odds and ends, of particular interest are the early 1969 tracks recorded with Malcolm Mooney as vocalist—thought to be unreleased cuts from the Monster Movie sessions—”The Empress and the Ukraine King,” “Mother Upduff,” “Connection,” and “Fall of Another Year.” Just imagine how these tracks would have sounded in place of some of the lengthier cuts that wound up on the group’s debut.
For today, I’m honored to present to you a special Krautrock playlist curated by my good friend Mike Newman from Beyond Beyond is Beyond. You can hear more from Mr. Newman by tuning into his radio show every Thursday from 12-2PM on East Village Radio.
From Mike Newman: Hey there! I was excited when DGB asked me to assemble a playlist a of some of my favorite Krautrock jams. So here we go! Well, first of all, I think people have different ideas of what Krautrock is. To some it is simply rock made by Germans in the late 60s and 70s. To others it comes more down to style: the motorik drumming, the nod to experimental electronic music, the ambient textures, the avant garde. And some that prescribe to the latter, don’t even consider being German a crucial element, so long as it checks out in the other categories. I like the jumble. The uncertainty. The gummi distinctions. What I’ve got here for you today is some of my favorite Kraut rock. Dig it…
01 Exmagma – Box 25 02 Can – Mother Sky 03 Amon Duul II – A Morning Excuse 04 Kraan – Andy Nogger 05 Faust – Flashback Caruso 06 Hairy Chapter – Illusions 07 Andy Goldner – Full Moon 08 Ashra – Oasis 09 Frumpy – I’m afraid, Big Moon 10 Cluster – Zum Wohl 11 Birth Control – We All Thought We Knew 12 Epitaph – Big City 13 Lake – Scoobie Doobies 14 Popol Vuh – Get Up 15 Niagara – Bones 16 Scorpions – It All Depends 17 Kin Ping Meh – My Future 18 Agitation Free – Atlantic Overcrossing 19 Kraftwerk – Autobahn