Review Summary: “Listen. The children of the night make their music.”
Popol Vuh was a German band founded by pianist and keyboardist Florian Fricke. The group is regarded as one of the earliest to create ambient, New Age, and world music. Their work began revolving around the then new Moog synthesizer paired with ethnic percussion and would later evolve to include all kinds of instruments, electric and acoustic alike, combined to produce mystical-sounding music both spiritual and introspective. The band is perhaps most notable for contributing to the soundtracks of the films of Werner Herzog, including Nosferatu
, Aguirre, the Wrath of God
, Cobra Verde
, Heart of Glass
, and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
, in which Fricke appeared.
The music of Nosferatu
isn’t always dark, but it’s certainly haunting. Herzog’s updated homage to F. W. Murnau’s silent classic further explores the pathos of the legendary Count Dracula, portraying him as a tortured and lonely soul, a victim of his own immortality. Popol Vuh manage to capture much of this atmosphere and emotion in their worldly sounds. Whether it’s sitar and electric guitar or acoustic guitar and synths, the band manages to harness a certain aura in these songs that perfectly compliment the images and themes of the film. On its own, the album still remains a meditative and thought-provoking collection of music. Nosferatu
seems like such a departure from the bloated orchestral scores of modern film-making. Here there’s a certain mystique to the sounds within and a true ambience. Minimalistic as it may be, there’s almost always enough going on. The marriage of instruments is thoughtful, with each part being well executed and bringing subtle compliments to the others. A lull in the action as often greeted with a new and interesting pairing of sounds and melodies. While listening to Nosferatu
, the mind rarely wanders; it journeys - through the vast and ornate chambers of a Transylvanian castle and to the depths of one’s own subconscious.
the film is certainly a classic, and in many ways, so is its soundtrack. The album remains a captivating early foray into music only gaining relevance today. The death of Florian Fricke in 2001 marked the end of Popol Vuh, but the collection of marvelous music he and his colleagues have left behind lives on and continues to inspire. Perhaps Count Dracula said it best himself, "Death is not the worst. There are things more horrible than death.”