gullbuy music review

Popol Vuh


Hosianna Mantra


SPV Records


Popol Vuh CD coverHosianna Mantra, Popol Vuh's 3rd album has appeared in previous editions, but nothing approaching the wonderful sound that SPV got out of their 2004 reissue, and none of the earlier editions included the bonus track Maria (Ave Maria).

It's a bit shorter than the first 2 reissues, but that's definitely made up for by the incredible leap forward towards the true Popol Vuh sound they developed on Hosianna Mantra. At one time Hosianna Mantra was also reissued along with the Die Nact der Seele - Tantric Songs album on the Celestial Harmonies label in 1991 on a two-fer, but this edition of Hosianna Mantra has much better sound as well as a bonus track which is one of the best tracks.

Main man Florian Fricke adds a religious beauty to Hosianna Mantra which gives it a new age sound even before that type of music existed. It's not a turn-off though because its much better than the new age music that came later, and it simply adds an elegant beauty that Popol Vuh would have in their music from this point forward.

There's different instrumentation here, with piano, guitars, and female vocals and sometimes sitar or harpsichord. The minimalist electronics is gone, and instead the songs are much shorter and have much more of a compositional element to them that was missing from the early albums. Every once in awhile the guitar solos can get the 70s cheese sound going, but actually they remind me of the guitar work from the Funkedelic guitarist. It's actually some of the best guitar work you'll probably hear from this time period in the early 70s.

The first half of the disc is subtitled Hosianna-Mantra and extends for what would have been the first side of the original LP. The title track Hosianna-Mantra is the best track in the first half, with some wonderful folk melodies that come to light with the meeting of the melody and the female vocals. Fans of Vashti Bunyan's Just Another Diamond Day or the softer Felt albums should check this out.

The second half of the disc is subtitled Das V. Buch Mose and extends for what would have been the second side of the original LP. Some tracks here are much shorter than even any on the first side of the album at under a minute long. There's horns that lead the melody along with sitar. The guitars don't solo as much, but the horn solos more. You can definitely hear why they went on to record soundtracks, this album sounds like a soundtrack in many ways. Segnung and Nicht Hoch Im Himmel have more female vocals and are the best representation of the Popol Vuh sound from this side of the album, both with a beautiful reaching sound far ahead of its time.

Maria (Ave Maria), the bonus track has a similar sound to the rest of Hosianna Mantra because it was recorded at the same time. It's a fine addition to the reissue and extends the album out in a good way with more incredible female vocals and even some percussion. It reminds me of the late 60s folk rock band The Gentle Soul. It's surprising it wasn't included on the original album. It's one of the best tracks here because its more tense and has more rhythm.

---Patrick, July 26, 2005