Review Summary: An overlooked masterpiece.
Before recording Hosianna Mantra
, Popol Vuh founder Florian Fricke found religion (both Hinduism and Christianity), which led to a significant shift regarding the approach towards Popol Vuh's music. Gone were the synthesizers, the band opting for an acoustic approach, rich in piano melodies and echoed guitars, thus becoming the foundation for the songs found on Hosianna Mantra
. There are some links to the first two records, Affenstunde
and In Den Gärten Pharaos
, and those being the use of the Indian percussion and tambura, used to a certain extent here.
While In Den Gärten Pharaos
was a more abstract affair, Hosianna Mantra
, like the title suggests, became a more subdued, trance inducing experience. From the gorgeous opening piano lines of "Ah!" to the weeping slides and soft vocals on "Kyrie" and even the lovely violin leads on "Abschied", the record does not show any signs of weakness. All the tracks are so well pieced together, designed to create a warm, eerie atmosphere and, in the end, to induce the listener into a mantra. No doubt, the title track is meant to be the centerpiece, building an endless, circular movement comprised of piano, delayed guitar, oboe and dreamy vocals. The free guitar licks successfully create the tantric atmosphere over the low piano rhythm, at one point beautifully intertwining with the vocals and oboe. Words are hard to express the sheer magnificent nature of "Hosianna Mantra".
marked a significant shift both in structure and melody for Popol Vuh. The material that followed this masterpiece was more or less based on the blueprint created here. The spiritual nature of this record and the use of exotic instruments combined with classical ones placed Popol Vuh at the forefront of the New Age and contemporary World Music genres that would develop over the years.
In the end, Hosianna Mantra
is an amazing, yet overlooked record which gives so much from its rather sparse structure, it's no wonder it influenced so many bands to come. It is a must listen for fans of New Age and World Music, but also for any avid music fan.