Rob Gould - "Wookey" - Reviews



Rob Gould
Wookey

This is shaping up to be a good year for cavers who are also music fans. Another new cave-related CD just arrived. How is it cave-related, you ask? It’s a soundtrack for a cave-diving movie: Wookey Exposed, by British cave diver Gavin Newman. Wookey Hole is a well-known British cave, and Newman did another caving film about 10 years ago called Caves of Thunder. Composer/keyboardist Rob Gould did the soundtrack for that film too, and it must have been a good one because Newman asked him to do the soundtrack for Wookey Exposed. I haven’t seen either film, but this CD makes me want to.

The CD is entitled simply Wookey, and it has a few choice cave-diving photos on the packaging – stills from the movie, perhaps. Although the music is instrumental, it’s more cave-related than you might think. It opens with a heartbeat and heavy breathing, so if you know anything at all about caves or diving, you’re probably already relating. That’s as obvious as it gets, though; until the breathing closes the last track, the rest of the music only relates to caving in that it’s dark, mysterious, and frequently quite beautiful.

Gould’s keyboard melodies are subtle and sensuous, and his string pads are lush. Whether or not the CD stands alone depends on what you like. It’s not sing-along-around-the-campfire music. There’s no drum kit, so it doesn’t rock. It’s not quite mellow enough for meditation. But it’s pretty, it’s moody, and it sounds really cool through headphones, if you catch my drift. Except for piano, some occasional guitar, and some brief, wordless female vocals, none of the parts are real. In fact, they’re not even sampled; they’re synthesized. But I like synthesized music, and this is particularly well done. Just don’t expect a real orchestra. The production is first-rate too, so if you like ethereal electronic music you’ll like this. The superficial connection with caving is really just a bonus.

There are 21 tracks on the CD, clocking in anywhere from 26 seconds to over seven minutes. The opening cut, “The Sunken Sea,” starts with the heartbeat and breathing; a dark string pad swells in, then all fades into the background as a pretty, contemplative piano solo evolves back into massed strings that majestically restate the piano’s theme. This main theme recurs in a couple of later cuts.

The rest of the cuts include plenty of dark, massed strings and bass drones; piano arpeggios and solos; occasional spooky moaning from guest vocalist Fiona Ford; underwater sound effects; shimmering, hissing, pinging, swooshing and burbling. Guest guitarist Jason Gilman has obviously been listening to David Gilmour; his reverb-soaked guitar riffs on several cuts provide a hint of Pink Floyd. The pervading feel is of slowness, probably in keeping with the cave diving sequences in the film. “Alone” ends the disk with just the diver’s heartbeat, breath, and bubbles receding into the distance. You can purchase both the CD and the film on the composer’s website: www.robgould.co.uk. Be prepared for pounds currency exchange, or let PayPal do it for you. Check out the mp3 samples from Wookey; I couldn’t get the link to “Chamber 9” to work, but “The Last Sump” is a minute’s worth of the main theme. Although I enjoyed the CD, if I could only afford one item I’d probably spring for the film and get the best of both worlds. If cave-diving theme music sounds a little too slow for you, check out the mp3s of Gould’s band Fula. It’s got nothing to do with caving, but it’s got drums, actual words (at least on the 1999 disk), and a more obvious Floyd (Pink, not Collins) influence.

Van Bergen
US Speleology Magazine

July 2004





Rob Gould
Wookey

Rob Gould is keyboard player in the group Fula (see i045 for review of their CD The Beautiful The Delicate & The true), on this solo record he uses genres of a different kind. It contains instrumental music, which he composes for the film Wookey by Gravin Newman; about an expedition to underwater caves. Because of that, this record has got a dark ambience.

The first part The Sunken Sea opens with the sounds of a breathing diver, continued by beautiful melancholic melodies, played on piano and strings. This sets the tone for the rest of the CD (21 tracks).

Enter Darkness contains enormous electronic string-players similar to those of the Grand master Vangelis. Some of the numbers contain pure effects and /or specifically recognizable Korg sounds. Gould is at his best in clear and open bombastic orchestral parts wherein the theme of the Sunken Sea regularly returns, unmistakably film music.

It not only contains keyboard use, sometimes you will hear David Gilmour-created guitar sounds passing by, like in The Great Escape and Wilderness, occasionally, like in the symphonic Beneath The Axe, in which the piano is the central instrument.

At other times (The long walk) you will hear atmospheric sounds. Besides Vangelis, the music also sounds like the score for Atlantic Realm through Clannad (without the folk-elements). All though not always exiting, it is an interesting soundtrack by a good composer. Info: www.robgould.co.uk or rob@fula.co.uk.

Paul Rijkens
iO pages

(Netherlands)

Nov 2003






Rob Gould
Wookey

(EIGEN BEHEER) Rob Gould is toetsenist in de groep Fula (zie iO 45 voor recensie van hun CD The Beautiful, The Delicate & The True). Op deze soloplaat tapt hij uit een ander vaatje. Het bevat instrumentale muziek die hij componeerde voor de film Wookey van Gavin Newman, die gaat over een expeditie naar onder water liggende grotten. De plaat kent dan ook een wat duistere sfeer.

Het eerste stuk The Sunken Sea opent met de geluiden van een ademhalende duiker waarna een prachtig melancholieke melodie volgt, gespeeld op piano en wijdse strings. Dit zet de toon voor de rest van de CD (21 nummers).

Enter Darkness bevat ook van die grootse elektronische strijkers die lijken op die van de grootmeester Vangelis. Sommige nummers bevatten louter effecten en/of bepaalde herkenbare Korg-presetgeluiden. Gould is het best op dreef in beeldende en vrij bombastische orkestrale stukken waarin het thema van The Sunken Sea regelmatig terugkeert, filmmuziek eigen.

Het zijn niet alleen toetsen die hij gebruikt, soms komen David Gilmour-achtige gitaarklanken voorbij, zoals in The Great Escape en Wilderness. Een enkele keer, bijvoorbeeld in het symfonische Beneath The Axe, is piano het centrale instrument.

Op andere momenten (The Long Walk) gaat het meer om atmosferische klanken. Naast Vangelis heeft de muziek ook wel iets weg van de score voor Atlantic Realm door Clannad (zonder de folk-elementen). Hoewel niet overal even boeiend, is het een interessante soundtrack van een goede componist. Info: www.robgould.co.uk of rob@fula.co.uk.
English translation to be added soon!

Paul Rijkens
iO pages

(Netherlands)

Nov 2003






Rob Gould
Wookey

This is a soundtrack to a film by Gavin Newman and seriously impressive it is too. If you are into the likes of Michael Neil or Bjorn Lynne’s recent ‘Return to Witchwood’ then you should give it a try. There might be a lot of tracks but the running order is excellent ensuring that the album holds together well as a single entity.

A heartbeat pulses from the speakers accompanied by heavy aqualung breathing. These disappear to be replaced by vast symphonic pads which fade away as a lovely melodic piano lead line comes in. Deep bass strings get the second piece underway. The mood lightens somewhat as bright and ethereal pads mix together to give a feeling of grandeur. The piano returns adding a gentle touch. The next piece is one of the shorter ones. It’s rather spooky, ghostly wails mixing with dark effects. From this interlude we return to more massed symphonics. After swirling electronics we get a piece based around gentle guitar licks with dark and windy atmospherics in the background, all rather Pink Floyd I thought.

We travel through space for a few seconds then go through another rather ethereal section building up to a really big dramatic sound. Another excellent piano melody is accompanied by an uplifting backing. Guitar is again heard on the next section but it plays a supporting role to more wonderful massed string sounds. Following further atmospheric electronics the whole orchestra returns, a fantastic almost weeping electric guitar soaring over the top. What a gem of a track this is.

After spooky effects we get a relaxed and extremely pleasant piano based piece. More wonderful, moody, echoing guitar gives way to swirling cosmic electronics then another excellent symphonic / ethereal combination of sounds and a soft slow melody. We now return to Pink Floyd territory, the guitar adding just that right amount of colour with a little bite. A bright sequence starts up on the following number over which is added a wordless vocal and more top-notch guitar work.

The next to last track is the longest at over seven minutes and is really a superb bringing together many of the previous elements and themes. We finish as we started with a heartbeat and aqualung. (DL)
David Law
Synth Music Direct

Sept 2003






Rob Gould
Wookey

GAVIN Newman’s film, Wookey Exposed, has been long in gestation (eighteen months) and eagerly awaited by cavers. An almost completed version was shown at the Mendip Caving 2003 weekend in June , but it is now finished and due to be premiered at Hidden Earth in October.

As with Gavin’s highly notable audio-visual production on caving in Irian Jaya, Caves of Thunder, the soundtrack has been specially written and performed by Rob Gould. His evocative music forms a superb complement to the film but also stands very well as music that cavers will enjoy listening to. The good news is that the twenty tracks are being released as a CD, which was due for release as soon as the pressing was complete around mid-July.

Full details will be posted on Rob’s website at www.robgould.co.uk and copies will be available in caving shops with an anticipated price around £12. Seek out titles such as Beneath the Axe, the Lake of Gloom or Mossy; then sit back to the sound of a subtle pulsing beat and the quiet, gentle rhythms of the dark. Can’t go wrong!
Chris Howes
Descent Magazine
(issue 173 for August 2003)
July 2003






Rob Gould
Wookey

Buxton keyboardist and soundtrack composer Rob Gould, probably best known for his work with local rock band Fula, has recorded a wonderful cd album called Wookey.

It has been described as deeply dramatic and emotional electronic music to accompany the Gavin Newman film Wookey Exposed. This film tracks the history and atmosphere of one of Britain's best known caves - Wookey Hole in the Mendip Hills, Somereset. It documents the first ever filmed journey into the underwater worlds of some of the inner chambers of the cave complex.

Rob, a former Poole's Cavern guide, previously worked with Gavin nine years ago when he wrote the award-winning soundtrack Caves of Thunder.

Typically atmospheric, cinematic soundscapes of Wookey provide the listener with moments of haunting beauty, serenity and light which compliments the emotions and feelings of darkness, drama and unease.

The whole project has taken almost a year to bring together and Rob was always Gavin's first choice for the soundtrack. "I woudn't dream of working with anyone else" said Gavin. "Rob knows me, my work and what I'm trying to achieve. He never lets me or the audience down"

The agency responsible for discovering Coldplay have expressed an interest in Rob's work and negotiations are already underway for the film to be aired on TV later this year.

Wookey also features local talented artists Jason Gilman on guitar and the voice of Fiona Ford. The cd is now available. ..........

Clive Leighton
Public - i / BBCi

July 2003






Rob Gould
Wookey

Rob is better known as keyboard player in CRS favourites Fula and has produced this CD as the soundtrack to a film about caving.

Right from "The Sunken Sea" intro you get the feeling of entering into a cave as the sound of a heartbeat and dripping water set the scene for this atmospheric piece.

Layered sounds flow through the tracks giving the impression of slow motion with a haunting vocal imput by Fiona Ford on "The Witch of Wookey Hole".

A Pink Floyd style guitar piece from Jason Gilman drifts through "Wilderness" adding a new dimension to the sound of the keyboard.

This is the sort of album that has to be sat back and listened to, and not just put on as background music to experience the whole instrumental journey through Wookey Hole. The CD is available from Rob's website www.robgould.co.uk.
Alistair Flynn
Rock Society Magazine

June 2003






Rob Gould
Wookey

Derbyshire keyboard wizard Rob Gould, probably best known for his work with Buxton rock band 'Fula’, has produced a wonderful album of deeply dramatic and emotional electronic music to accompany the Gavin Newman film, ‘Wookey Exposed’. This film tracks the history and atmosphere of one of Britain’s best known caves, Wookey Hole in the Mendip Hills, Somerset and documents the first ever filmed journey into the underwater worlds of some of the inner chambers of the cave complex. Rob previously worked with Gavin nine years ago when he wrote the award winning soundtrack, ‘Caves of Thunder’.

Wookey’ contains twenty-one tracks in all, ranging from a mere twenty six seconds to over seven minutes. Fans of electronic, synthesiser-based music will find plenty to enjoy, dramatic, melodic, orchestral, yet simple themes and tunes abound. The dramatic opening sounds of ‘Sunken Sea’, a pounding heartbeat and heavy breathing, bring to mind pictures of the heavy weight diving suits worn by those early cave divers as pictured on the album cover. There is a solid keyboard base, with sweeping chords that moves subtly into a gentler melodic piano theme, this theme resurfaces at various points through out the album adding a sense of continuity.

Enter Darkness’ sets the scene; a dark and brooding feel with a hint of anticipation mixed with apprehension and expectation. A gentle piano theme then lifts the mood of the piece, drawing the listener in by releasing some of the tension from the feel of the music.

The famous Witch of Wookey Hole gets a piece to herself, again, dark with a spooky unearthly feel, great use of voice and echo effects, giving an impression of the real and surreal at the same time. ‘Divers Theme’ contains wonderfully dramatic keyboards, that never become overblown and over dramatic. Atmospheric and thought provoking with a subtle string effect that adds to the overall musical picture; this section bristles with tension and adhesion.

The journey continues with ’Great Escape’ a lighter; gentler section, free flowing and giving a sense of wonder and awe. In contrast ’Into the Dark’ has a very heavy feeling, with dramatic heartbeats, subtle use of guitar and echo, all combining to give a mood of rising tension to the music, creating a mind picture of a vast, dark, cold, empty place.

Fans of Fula will probably appreciate the track called ‘Wilderness’ where some of Rob’s more recognisable Fula touches come to the forefront, probably added to by the presence of the guitar work of former Fula man Jason Gilman. The album moves through various dramatic soundscapes, with varying degrees of pace and power to end with the melodic ‘Lake of Gloom’ where the original theme from ‘Sunken Sea’ rises again to be added to and worked upon in an excellent piece of electronic music.

The album is due for general release on 14th July 2003 and is well worth checking out. I would like to see the film, where I’m sure, this powerful and dramatic music would be heard to it’s best effect, however, the tune and themes contained in it do stand up in their own right, a great piece of work. For more details check the official Rob Gould website, www.robgould.co.uk. for more information.
Paul Baker
Phoenix Soundscapes

June 2003






Rob Gould
Wookey

This soundtrack album was recorded to give audio gravitas and drama to a documentary film by Gavin Newman called 'Wookey Exposed' about cave diving but it works as a stand alone piece of mood music, filling the listener with their own cinematic mind images. It opens with a Dark Side Of The Moon style heartbeat and the eerie sounds of a diver using underwater breathing equipment, before enveloping us in synthesiser soundscapes, giving way to an atmospheric piano-piece before drawing us back to the sound of the diver's breathing and heartbeat. Synth and electronic fans will love it!

One track I wouldn't want to play late at night in an empty house is The Witch Of Wookey Hole, it's a short, sharp, dark menacingly gothic piece with ghostly female wailing; spooky isn't the word! The hypnotic heartbeat returns on The Great Escape as we hear Gilmouresque guitar echo bell-like above wind-chime sounds and synth-washes, the exploration continues through atmospheres reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream, Floyd and Oldfield. Some are spacey, some dramatic others like 'Beneath The Axe' seduce you with soothing cascading pianos, synths and sampled choirs reminding me of early Tony Banks. A New Realm boasts sweeping waves of synth, punctuated with powerful Gilmouresque guitar lines. Best heard on the headphones in the dark! It certainly makes me want to go and see the documentary to experience the whole package. For more info see www.robgould.co.uk/
Dave Kennedy
Rockin' the Boat

June 2003







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