West Germany’s Popol Vuh made history in 1970 with the release of their debut album, Affenstude. Pioneers and architects of space music, they utilized the Moog synthesizer to weave ambient soundscapes while freeing themselves of the boundaries set by compositional standards.
Introspective and contemplative, Popol Vuh’s music gave a sense of breadth that was, at the time, seldom experienced. A breadth and spaciousness, in which analog signals carried the listener across a vast, unknown expanse.
It was only a matter of time before experimental filmmaker Werner Herzog would call upon Popol Vuh to score the music for his next film, 1972’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Starring the late great Klaus Kinski, the movie was the perfect vessel for the stripped-down, yet profound, synthetic music of his fellow countrymen.
While not set in space, Herzog’s film told the story of a group of conquistadors navigating the Amazon river in search of the mythical city of El Dorado. Arduous and futile, the expedition is not only doomed by the vying Spanish invaders, but the sheer vastness of the Amazon basin, and its myriad threats.
In the year 2022, Don Lope de Aguirre is long dead—as his raft is rotten and sunk—yet his spirit carries on, still searching for El Dorado, the seven cities of gold.
No longer in the Peruvian jungle he seeks, but in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri; far from the disease-laden tropics, but in the cool emptiness of space, forever adrift—carried by Popol Vuh’s own starspawn, Blood Incantation.
The beauty of Blood Incantation’s new album, Timewave Zero, is that it offers a path, but no direction. The band, traditionally associated with death metal, made the bold move to strip itself of almost everything that defined itself sonically, to enable its auditors to wander freely.
While the band’s 2019 release, Hidden History of the Human Race, featured ambient passages, the overall performance can be categorized as death metal. For Timewave Zero, though, Blood Incantation chose to embrace its reverence for ambient music, forgoing any metallic device.
The result is quite strikingly similar to what Popol Vuh and others set to create since the start of the 1970s—musical journeys to the stars. No, Blood Incantation’s Timewave Zero is not a death metal album with progressive elements. Its two tracks, “Io” and “Ea,” are purely synth-based.
Timewave Zero is a meditation vessel, a psychonautic raft—one that could carry you far away, if you just let yourself drift, like Aguirre, down the Amazon river, or beyond the stars.
The only thing missing, in my opinion, is the inclusion of Peruvian flutes.