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 News Pop / Rock 15/05/2018

Bob Holroyd - The Cage

Bob Holroyd - The Cage

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Bob Holroyd's album The Cage once again brings this master of sound manipulation and musical space-shaping to the forefront of the avant-garde music scene with his intriguing exploration and eclectic experimentation. Inside The Cage album, this U.K. multi-instrumentalist and sound-designer states the recording's premise: "Freedom is a larger cage, a longer page, a wider stage. True freedom comes not from escape, but allowing everything in."

According to Holroyd (pronounced hole-roid), "I have been in therapy for a while now, and the main influence on this album has been the process of allowing things to be discovered, even to myself. This is where the idea of the 'cage' came from. 'The Cage' is where I have subconsciously imprisoned myself emotionally for years. By keeping out 'negative' emotions I have felt safe, but ultimately made myself unapproachable to others and to myself. I had the idea that instead of trying to escape this cage, I should enlarge it to include all emotions, feelings, experiences and people. I found that if EVERYTHING is in 'The Cage,' then I am more free than if I were keeping all influences out."

On The Cage album that freedom to experiment is evident and takes the music to unexpected places in the realms of ambient, new age, modern classical, chill and avant-garde. Holroyd primarily plays piano, synthesizers and electric guitar, but he also brings in occasional special guests (cellist Peter Gregson, bassist Lawrence Cottle, horn player Kevin Robinson and guitarist Craig Joiner). Holroyd then carefully manipulates and "crafts" the overall sound.

Holroyd's music is often hard to pigeon-hole because in the past it has ranged from ambient minimalism to world music, modern classical and jazz. Now with nine studio albums and six remix albums to his name, Bob's texturally cinematic work has been recognized and remixed extensively by a huge range of artists such as Coldcut, Nitin Sawhney, Four Tet, Francois K, Mogwai, The Album Leaf, T. Williams, Lemonde, Loop Guru, Steve Roach and more, and has been used prominently in mainstream TV and films such as The Dark Knight, Lost, True Blood, The Sopranos, Panorama, Coast and many more.

More information on Bob Holroyd and his music is available at his website (bobholroyd dot com). His recordings - The Cage, Blueprint, Afterglow, Beachcombing, Hollow Man, Without Within, A Different Space, Stages, Fluidity and Structure, and his remixes - are available at his website and much of the music can also be found at online sales sites such as CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes and many others.

Over the course of his musical career Bob Holroyd has pioneered music that crosses musical and cultural boundaries, and as a result his music is influenced by a diverse array of sights and sounds from around the world. Holroyd's music has often included influences from his extensive travels in Africa and Asia, and ranges from intense walls of percussive drumming -- as on his cult club classic "African Drug" -- to delicate atmospheric soundscapes, such as the beautiful "Looking Back" -- a track recorded for the "Sanscapes" project to highlight the plight of the Kalahari Bushmen, whom he collaborated with. Similarly, he also recorded the Islamic Call to Prayer at Regent's Park Mosque, writing a moving and dramatic piece around the haunting vocal by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens).

With more recent releases such as the critically-acclaimed Blueprint and Beachcombing, Holroyd has looked deeper into himself for inspiration. He cites as key elements of stimulus his personal work in therapy, the complex textures and emotions that make up every moment of our lives, and the exploration of the creative process itself. His latest album The Cage delves further into his poignant introspection.

Holroyd reflected on the concept of an expansive and all-inclusive "cage" when constructing and recording the album. Instead of going into the studio with a set of well-rehearsed and fine-tuned ideas, he opted for a more organic approach, recording what felt right on each day. Speaking about the process he says, "It took a long time to finish some tracks, but I found it incredibly liberating to do only what immediately felt right at the moment without the constraints that I have put myself under in the past."

This raw and beguilingly honest take on his new album can be heard instantly in the music itself. There are transcendent ambient cogitations throughout The Cage which is made up of twelve tracks of deep emotive encounters, from ruminating to wistful to uplifting. There are beautifully woven atmospheric textures of light and space, which coalesce to form both images and feelings, and which can truly be described as minimally complex. Holroyd was inspired over the years by music from artists such as Eno, Laraaji, Max Richter and Peter Broderick. Holroyd also names David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel, Arvo Part, Nils Petter Molvaer, Radiohead, Tavener and others as further influences.

"It's been a frustration to me that as far as other people are concerned my music doesn't fit into any obvious category," states Holroyd. "I have always thought of this as a plus, but I can see when trying to describe it, how it is hard to define it for other peoples' minds. All the instruments I have listed are actually played real organic instruments. However, there are also a lot of electronic ambiences that are derived from a mixture of synths, and sound effects. Also, to make the textures I have often slowed tracks down, or changed the pitch, so that they are still real instruments, but they have been altered in the studio to create new 'found' sounds. I suppose this album could be called electro-acoustic, although I have heard terms such as 'modern classical chamber music' and 'organic complex minimalism'!!! It's true that it is generally more involved than ambient but still very atmospheric.

"More and more I have found that the way I write has changed and I feel that I am producing sound collages rather than constructed pieces. I think my music is more structured and arranged than ambient music, but at the same time I love producing textures, or strange ambiences with a variety of instruments, and then seeing what develops as a result. Once these ambiences have been established I tend to add 'sound colours' -- whatever seems to fit.

"For example, I might take a cello part that was recorded for a particular track and then experiment with it. There is a lot of randomness to the process at this point. I may slow it down, reverse it, add the original to it, then chop out a section and loop this up to make a strange but interesting texture or rhythm. Occasionally this type of experiment will sound amazing -- like something that I would never have been able to imagine when I started. Then I will start to improvise over this new creation with a piano, or guitar, or even get the session cellist to come back to the studio and play a new part I have written. Eventually a track starts to emerge, but it's very feeling-based, and changes direction quite often before completion."

As Bob Holroyd delves further into his own psyche, as well as the world and influences around him, his own brand of quiet sound collages grow not only into deep, meaningful multi-faceted compositions but also unveil within their depths an intelligent and thought-provoking non-verbal prose.

"In the past I have been very inspired by travelling, and the different sounds, styles and instruments that other cultures use. Whilst this still interests me very much, I feel that my later work has been more about the journey inside as much as to other parts of the world. This is principally what this album is about -- trying to find me and what that actually is."

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