The follow-up two years later, In den Garten Pharaos, was Popol Vuh's creative breakthrough, an intensely meditative work fusing ambient textures with organic percussion. In its wake, however, Fricke converted to Christianity, a move which sparked a rejection of electronics in favor of traditional ethnic instrumentation including guitars, oboe, and tamboura; he then tapped korean soprano Djong Yun to lend vocals to 1972's lovely Hosianna Mantra. Fricke next teamed with one-time Amon Düül II drummer Daniel Fichelscher for the next Popol Vuh LP, Seligpreisung; its follow-up, 1975's Einsjager & Siebenjager, remains widely considered among the group's most stunning efforts. That same year, they began a lengthy creative partnership with the celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog which yielded soundtracks for features including Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, and Nosferatu.
Throughout the latter half of the '70s, Popol Vuh's fascination with global sounds and instruments continued, with the prominence of sitars, tablas, and tamboura percussion on LPs like 1977's Herz aus Glas and 1979's Die Nacht der Seele: Tantric Songs earning their latter-day sound descriptions like "raga rock." In 1978, Fricke founded the Working Group for Creative Singing and also became a member of the Breathing Therapy Society, traveling the world to lecture on both subjects; ultimately, his outside passions began to overshadow his work in Popol Vuh, and as the '80s dawned, the group began losing steam, calling it quits after 1983's excellent Agape Agape. After reuniting two years later for Spirit of Peace, Fricke again reassembled Popol Vuh for the 1997 LP Shepherd's Symphony. ~ Jason Ankeny