Not wanting to be pigeon-holed, Bob Holroyd has long pioneered music that crosses musical and cultural boundaries, and as a result his music is spiced with influences from all corners of the globe. He has worked with artists as diverse as Yusuf Islam, Coldcut, Nitin Sawhney and the Bushmen of the Kalahari, and has released six critically acclaimed albums to date.
- Half Light [2:34]
- Ambient Like Snow [5:26]
- Mirror Lakes [3:40]
- Empty Vessel [3:46]
- Fragments [2:21]
- 27 Words [4:19]
- Svartisen [3:49]
- Afterglow [4:02]
- In the Time We Have Left [4:31]
- Moment [2:17]
- The Turning Of The Page [3:57]
- Stillpoint [4:18]
His new album 'Afterglow' takes this musical journey in quite a different direction, occupying a space somewhere between new classical and minimalism. Dispensing completely with drums or percussion of any kind, it is a work composed and constructed from live and treated piano, cello, trumpet and guitar loops to produce a series of ambient textures and intimate spaces that unfold over time, layer by layer.
Each of the 12 tracks are initially live recordings which have then been processed in various ways to create new versions of themselves. Some have been sampled and played out of their natural register, others have had a small section sampled and played repetitively to create a starting loop from which the rest of the track has been built.
Sometimes a recording of one instrument has been taken from the track it was originally played on and detuned to 'fit' another piece. All these layers and performances have then been used as 'instruments' in their own right to compose the finished works.
Bob Holroyd's earlier albums were very much inspired by travelling, and influenced by the new sounds, cultures and musical styles encountered as a result. However, 'Afterglow' is a much more introspective work about personal exploration and as a result has it's emphasis on the feelings and spaces within rather than external sources.
“I wanted 'Afterglow' to have a more organic, real feel to it than some of my previous albums.” says Holroyd “Although there has been quite a lot of subtle studio processing to produce the finished sound, in essence all the tracks are live recordings of real musicians playing real instruments, albeit sometimes not how they initially played them.
Musically the album is about the process of working through emotions - exploring the various repeating patterns and multiple layers to see how they can be developed into something deeper and more complete over time. It is these subtle shifts that I have tried to portray; how such seemingly small changes can make huge differences to the way we feel, and how in time, we can move to a new space”.
When it comes to finding music that creates an emotional resonance for the people on the dancefloor, Bob Holroyd is my ‘go to’ man. A definite statement was made with his last offering (“Beachcombing”) by venturing (with a few key tracks) into territory normally reserved for ambient luminaries.
For his latest album “Afterglow”, Bob completes his transition into the realm of pure ambience. There’s not a beat in site; what “Afterglow” misses in beats however, it more than makes up for in incredible depth, subtlety, and vibrant emotional resonance.
This is music that navigates deep rivers, and the oh so human condition of transitioning from loss to redemption. The result is a richly nuanced melancholy musical treat that would (I believe) make ambient pioneers Brian Eno and Harold Budd proud.
A cd like this is not something you can simply slap on, skip through and listen to a song or two here and there. This is essentially one long song broken down into chapters; uninterrupted listening is essential, and it takes multiple plays before this diamond in the rough really starts to shine.
Floating drone sounds, simple piano lines, nostalgic guitar riffs and reverb drenched cello notes create an ethereal and enveloping perfume that connects the listener to their emotions, releases tension and acts as a soothing balm to the ears. Bob Holroyd and his studio musicians make it all seem so easy...but there is true genius at work here; and an acute understanding of the principle ‘less is more’.
It’s not often these days that you get to listen to music that is as much defined by the space between the notes as by the notes themselves. There’s so much room to breath and just be in these compositions that it literally calls out to the listener to be an active participant in the dialogue that is unfolding.
Make no mistake about it; this cd is quite a drastic and daring departure from the typical ambient world electronica, even for a producer who is continually proving his willingness to try the unexpected. And it has a definite melancholic mood that may not be to everyone’s tastes. But for those who believe that good music justifies investing oneself in the experience, this release is definitely for you.
Relax, take your shoes off, kick back, and get ready to take a trip to moonlit clouds under the most incredible star filled sky you have ever seen. “Afterglow” is the musical equivalent to a constellation shaped like a string of pearls hanging from the bosom of the milky way; it will guide you through the darkest of nights and whisk you back to the mists of dawn with each and every listen...
"Afterglow" (also the featured album on the Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound website during July 2011) is the seventh album by UK musician Bob Holroyd, musically turning away from the outcome as heard on his previous recordings.
The 45-minute instrumental release features quiet and reflective ambient miniatures with a profound organic backbone. Its compositions slowly move back and forth between minimal and contemporary classical music, together creating overall intimate spaces.
The 12 introspective ambient musings contain no percussion/drums, and are assembled of carefully constructed live and treated piano, synth textures, guitar loops, cello and trumpet. At times, some of the subtle processed and quite spacious music slightly remembered me of Mark Isham’s "Film Music", while the beautiful closing piece "Stillpoint" is almost funeral-like.
All in all, the well-balanced "Afterglow" and a kind of intrinsic chamber music for the slow lane, gently evolving before the mind’s eye while time seems to fade away. "
Bert Strolenberg - Sonic Immersions