Popol Vuh is a band unlike any other. The music stems from the genius mind of Florian Fricke, the only constant member of the project through its 30 year life span. Over the span of four short years (1970 to 1974), Fricke managed to create some of the most beautiful and diverse music of the era. What began as a cosmic journey to space on the first two albums - Affenstunde and In den Gärten Pharaos - by employing synthesizers and electronic effects, as was the German thing to do, quickly morphed in to the new age, acoustic experience of Hosianna Mantra. From this, Popol Vuh set out Seligpreisung, which contained 'songs', rather than long cosmic soundscapes or beautiful ethereal hymns. As the electronics were toned down for the acoustic instrumentation, those too shown less emphasis on the fifth album - Einsjäger und Siebenjäger. Here, the star of the show is the electric guitar, played on this album by Daniel Fichelscher (also providing percussion), who would later go on to play drums for another seminal krautrock group, Amon Düül II.
Einsjäger und Siebenjäger is easily the most 'rock' album they released up to this point, but still shares very little resemblance to other (at least, mainstream) rock acts of the period - take for example some 1974 hit singles like Band On The Run, You Aint Seen Nothin Yet (bbbbbbbbbbbbaby you jjjjjjust aint seen nnnnnnothin yet DOOOOO DOOOOOO), or The Joker. Then again, I doubt anyone expects a German experimental group to release pop songs. While the guitar provides most of the heart of the tracks, the other instrumentation - the drumming and of course Fricke's piano - are equally as important in making this album sound and feel how it does. Einsjäger und Siebenjäger is, above all, a blend of the Hosianna Mantra style ethereal beauty, of (other important krautrock group) Neu!'s clean electric guitar sound, and of the psychedelic acid jams of years passed.
The opening track, 'Kleiner Krieger', is a short piece of guitar, essentially acting in the same way a film would have opening credits or something like that. The meat of the album begins with 'King Minos' - opening with a huge drum and piano duet, as the guitar slowly creeps in, playing slick bluesy licks over and over. The beautiful beast keeps pulsing and slowing down and speeding up over four and a half minutes which seem to just fly by. 'Morgengruß' is a relatively short piece composed by Fichelscher, and harks back to Kleiner Krieger except with the addition of acoustic guitar. 'Würfelspiel' follows, an adds a flute to the cosmic jamming of Fichelscher and Fricke, with drumming sounding so modern it almost sounds like Gustav Ejstes of Dungen listened to this song and decided to drum like that on every album. 'Gutes Land' moves far away from rock music, and more to the works of previous Popol Vuh albums, with a 3 minute introduction of just haunting piano which is then joined for the remaining two minutes by languid drums and guitar tones.
All of that takes up only 17 minutes of this album, though it feels like much, much more. The remaining 19 minutes is devoted to the centrepiece and one of Popol Vuh's masterpieces - the title track, Einsjäger und Siebenjäger. The only track with vocals (wordless though), by Korean singer Djong Yun (who was part of the band), its length allows the three to blend together the ideas previously touched on in the album and expand them to huge extents. In all of rock music, this song is up there in terms of beauty and quality. To think that this was done by only two people playing instruments is surreal. The movements between internal sections are simply breathtaking, and there simply isn't a boring moment in this 19 minute monster. Words simply can't do it justice.
All of these songs have cinematic qualities - be them uplifting or haunting - which indeed led Fricke to compose music for a whole host of Werner Herzog's films (I think they were school friends or something, they knew each other at least), most notably 'Aguirre, the Wrath of God'. Fricke was even a film critic in his later years. Very few bands manage to jump around styles of music in such a short time, and create phenomenal works like Popol Vuh has (only really Soft Machine, Frank Zappa, and The Velvet Underground come to mind). The Popol Vuh sound is one that is truly unique.
320 kbps - mp3 - Germany - 1974 - 2004 edition, includes two bonus tracks