The Mondo Esoterica Guide to:

Florian Fricke and Popul Vuh

  About Florian Fricke:

Born in Germany in 1944, Florian was interested in music from an early age, taking up the piano at the age of seven. In 1959, he dropped out of school to study piano full time, until he was 19, when he decided to head out into the real world where he directed his own short film and worked as a film/music critic. During this time he met director Werner Herzog in Munich, and the pair would work together for over three decades, beginning with an appearance as a piano player in Herzog's first feature film Signs of Life (1968) and composing the soundtrack for the simply strange Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970). Fricke was one of the first German composers to embrace synthesisers and used the revolutionary MOOG III. In 1970 he estabished a group named Popul Vuh, after the Mayan book of life, and they released the experimental electronic album Affenstunde. Over the next decades they released a variety of albums moving from electronic to ethnic themes, inspired by some of the most remote areas of the globe, including the Middle East and Tibet, and credited as some of the first examples of new age music. Fricke and the group also continued to work with Werner Herzog to provide haunting scores to some of his best films. In the late 1990s he shot several music videos, combining natural images with their haunting music, and he developed a voice training programme for vocalists, known as The Alphabet of the Body. In 2001 Florian Fricke died of a stroke.

Fricke's film scores are distinctive, his work in the 1970s especially haunting thanks to his use of the eerie choir-effects of the synthesiser organs. This music is probably closest compared to Greek film composer Vangelis (Blade Runner (1982)), although while most Vangelis scores are entirely electronic, Fricke often mixes his synthesised music in with real instruments. Although Fricke is best known for his film scores, most of which are not available on audio CD, anyone interested in experimental electronic music, and ethnic new age music would be advised to check out the Popul Vuh albums - some of the most haunting music ever recorded.

DVD Reviews: Films scored by 
Florian Fricke

Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)            
Anchor Bay UK Region 0 DVD
A powerfully haunting score boosts the first Kinski/Herzog partnership, and one of the most beautiful films ever made.
Highly recommended to all.
Cobra Verde (1987)            
Anchor Bay UK Region 2 DVD
The last Kinski/Herzog partnership is a rather poor film with a minimal score, shallow plot and uninspired direction.
Not recommended.
Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)            
Anchor Bay USA Region 0 DVD
Simply bizarre - this story of dwarfs running amock in an asylum is one of the strangest films ever made.
Recommended to fans of bizarre cinema.
Fitzcarraldo (1982)            
Anchor Bay UK Region 0 DVD
Herzog really moves a boat over a hill in this exciting but rather impersonal film, with another outstanding soundtrack.
Heart of Glass (1976)            
Anchor Bay USA Region 0 DVD
An entire cast under hypnosis and a Popul Vuh score creates a unique atmosphere in this purely dreamlike production.
Nosferatu (1979)            
Anchor Bay UK Region 0 DVD
Kinski plays Count Dracula in Herzog's eerie and dreamlike adaptation of the classic silent movie with a wonderful score.
Highly recommended.


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All text in this site written by Timothy Young - August 2006.
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