Search - Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana :: Well of Souls

Well of Souls
Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana
Well of Souls
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, World Music, New Age, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #2

File under "Mild Hallucinogen": tribal-ambient pioneer Roach and percussionist Obmana take us to sacred sites and forbidden netherworlds with this gorgeous pastiche of rhythmic hypnotism and shimmering sonic drift. Every b...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana
Title: Well of Souls
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Projekt Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2000
Re-Release Date: 6/10/1997
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, World Music, New Age, Pop, Rock
Styles: Ambient, Indie & Lo-Fi, American Alternative, Europe, Continental Europe, Meditation, Progressive, Electronic
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 617026006024

File under "Mild Hallucinogen": tribal-ambient pioneer Roach and percussionist Obmana take us to sacred sites and forbidden netherworlds with this gorgeous pastiche of rhythmic hypnotism and shimmering sonic drift. Every bit as alluring as Roach's didjeridoo- infused New Age classic Dreamtime Return, Souls is even deeper and more complex. Charged with canyon-sized reverb decays and growling subsonic hums, it's one of the scariest relaxing experiences you'll ever have--the kind of reality-blurring soundtrack that might have accompanied William Hurt during the famous psychotropic isolation-tank sequence in Altered States. Ditto for the neoprimitive cave paintings in the cover art. Brilliant. --James Rotondi

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CD Reviews

One of the truly great Roach collaborations
dronecaster | Baton Rouge, LA USA | 08/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The follow-up to Obmana's exceptional 1994 release "The Spiritual Bonding" (on Extreme Records), "Well of Souls" extends the collaborative relationship between desert ambient pioneer Roach and the avant-atmospheric leanings of Obmana. This is without question the most successful of their two collaborative efforts, the other being "Cavern of Sirens" (Projekt, 1997). In some respects, there has been little attention paid to this great recording, that is, in comparison to the amount of press that has been lavished on albums that are generally considered to be Roach's best, including "Dreamtime Return" and "The Magnificent Void" for instance. While they are milestones in ambient electronic music, "Well of Souls" is sort of a neglected achievement. Roach may have become increasingly prolific over the past several years, namely with the launch of his Timeroom Editions label, but few recordings of late possess the truly hallucinogenic/mind-blowing character of this double CD.The mid-90s saw Roach developing into a consumate figure in a more avant-garde form of electronic music which has been coined "techno-tribal", which meshes synthesised textures with primitive acoustic instruments. There is a general pattern in which he follows the Jon Hassell/Australian Aboriginal paradigm which began with "Dreamtime Return" and follows all the way through with "Origins". It was with his '94 recording "Artifacts" and especially the track "The Origin of Artifacts" that Roach begins to separate himself somewhat from this archetype by delving in unusually unique sound constructions where his synths and FX processors were involved. That track in particular was the single most ambitious composition since "To the Threshold of Silence" from his "World's Edge" double CD.So it was hardly a surprise that in the following year he would release this remarkable collaborative effort with Vidna Obmana, who is now considered to be the European answer to Roach's sonic explorations. Considering that Obmana himself collaborated with the likes of Asmus Tietchens (a "sound language" inventor in his own right), it seemed a fitting melding of musical minds.The first disc opens with the spirialing "In the Presence of Something", created mostly from a highly processed didgeridoo drone and clay pot percussion, nothing too unusual for Roach. But the following "Outlands" tracks pick up where the sparling "The Origins of Artifacts" (from the album "Artifacts")left off. The complex, trancey percussion which goes on for several minutes ends abruptly in a unsettling sea of highly abstract, metallic synth textures on "Outlands One" and an environment which resembles a slow-motion collision of asteriods (for lack of a better description) on "Outlands Two". The second disc, which is absent of percussion, opens with the brilliant "Deep Hours", a stunning exercise in pure sonic drift with a deceptive melody which rivals the 30-minute "Looking for Safety" (from "Dreamtime"), but this a far deeper piece of music altogether. Roach and Obmana here create an environment of ghostly chords, high-pitched cacklings that seem to come from nowhere, and grand sweeps of bright, almost blinding sound colors. Obmana's solo piece "The Quiet Companion" seems to be inspired by "Deep Hours" but is far less disturbing while Roach's "The Dwelling Place" shows him in "Dreamtime Return" mode and is probably the warmest (emotionally speaking)track on the disc. Hopefully, more of those interested in Roach's endeavors will see "Well of Souls" for the work of genius that it truly is."
Utterly Dark, Eerie, and Somewhat Unnerving
M. D. MCGINLEY | United States | 01/09/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I have been a loyal fan of Steve Roach's work since 1987, when I discovered "Dreamtime Return" (which I still consider his best recording--ever), but "Well of Souls" is the exception to his otherwise brilliant explorations into the subconscious using carefully constructed musical waveforms and subsonic rhythms. This particular recording is utterly creepy, unearthly, macabre-something that malevolent spirits would relish. It is not for relaxing after a hard day, trying to feel better or 'enlightening the spirit.' On the contrary, I found it quite entrapping, scary, and it left me with a strong desire to escape, like I had unknowingly been imprisoned in the dark areas of my mind--areas that I cared not to revisit. "Well of Souls" put me in a state of complete apprehension, bordering somewhere between fear and a surreal sense of paranoia. I retained it for two years, hoping it would grow on me, but the fact is that I was glad to have it gone. Seriously. It reminded me of Robert Rich's gloomy and preternatural "Stalker," something else that did not have one positive melody or agreeable chord, only bent pitches and twisted notes on the half-cents that reminded me of the soundtrack to "The Blair Witch Project." I apologize if you might find that unhelpful, but the fact is there is no redeeming quality about it.

I must be candid about "Well of Souls," even at the risk of negative objections, so I won't sugar coat this one. Perhaps it was Obmana's influence on this recording that convinced me that not all artists are meant to share compositions (like "too many chefs spoil the meal"). Instead, I highly recommend "76:14" by Freedom, or perhaps Bioshere's "Substrata", or better yet get Cliff Martinez' ineffable soundtrack to "Solaris" which is out of print and very expensive ($50 to $150 per CD[!]). Another good alternative to "Well of Souls" is an ambient collection called "Inner Space" volumes 1 and 2, where you can get nearly 130 minutes of excellent ambience and electronica for only about $12.00.

The following are also requirements instead of "Well of Souls": "Dreamtime Return" (1987), "Desert Solitaire" (1988, performed with Kevin Braheny), or even "On Ritual Ground" (1990, re-released in 2002). "Quiet Music" (1988) would go so far as to pull me out of the "Well of Souls" while not shaking my consciousness to the core. It made me realize that not all places in the subconscious were meant to be explored. I don't care how you feel about it, I was so glad just to get out of there. When you escape from hell, the rest of your life is all gravy."
Outstanding collaboration between Roach and Obmana
Michael Rittenberry (rein0068@frank | Nashville, Tennessee | 09/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The first, and best, of three released collaborations between Steve Roach and Dirk Series (aka Vidna Obmana), WELL OF SOULS is one helluva journey into the world of nocturnal slipstreaming. Disc One is the more easily approachable, with spare percussion underlying neverending washes of synth drones. However, Disc Two takes a trip into the heart of darkness. "Deep Hours" and the title track flow out of your speakers (or headphones) like slow motion descents into the unknown, simultaneously creating a sense of dread and calm. The music, at times, is so incredibly haunting that it is almost impossible to believe that it isn't streaming straight down from the farthest reaches of the universe. A highly recommended album and one of the finest of the 1990's... but it's certainly not for the faint of heart (don't feel worried if "Deep Hours" scares the hell out of you the first time you listen to it through headphones, because it certainly left me with an unsettling feeling)!"