Review: Bob Holroyd – The Cage

Composer, Producer and all-round virtuoso Bob Holroyd returns once more to the cinematic and music scenes with his latest album release. Its title offers a slight glimpse into the emotionally dense, and somehow synthetic nature, of the compositions ensnared within it. Having collaborated with Cold Cut & Four Tet as well as having featured in popular programmes and films such as: The Dark Knight, True Blood, Lost and The Sopranos, it is almost certain that those unfamiliar with his name with have stumbled across his musical accomplishments at some point in their televisual experiences.

Unlike his comparable composer counterparts – Max Richter, Ramin Djawadi, Johan Johansson and Peter Broderick, to name but a few – Holroyd has begun to introduce a stimulating element of electricity into his work – one that is rarely found in this area of music. Aside from its electrifying sound, his latest project is steeped in Jazz and Folk influences, at times even edging towards the sound of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million album.

The Cage opens with the gradually thickening ‘Inner Mind Sigh’, a slow immersion into a textured and enshrouded filmic landscape in the form of solemn piano playing and eerie flicks of guitar. Crescendos slowly build against a backdrop of melting musical elements in a complex, enthralling auditory narrative. The compositional usages of volume, crescendo and diminuendo employed in the piece recur throughout the album, most notably in ‘Identity’ and ‘Falling Together’, both of which deliver shimmering melodies betwixt bellows of brass and drooping bass.

An instrumental album, his work is required to express everything, while articulating nothing. Through a wobbling piano that dips in and out of consciousness in ‘Into the Light’ and the lonely cricket’s call that circles ‘Wing Clipped’, Holroyd manages to exhibit an abundance of moods and emotions with no words. There is rarely a moment where a song stands still or fails to offer new information on the scenes that it sketches, an extraordinary effort that marks the work of a consummate composer.

One of the more satisfying aspects of album the is its self-assuredness: Holroyd seems completely confident in his sound, which resultantly retains its appeal throughout. Each track flows into the next – and while some might call this ‘samey’, to me The Cage is a thorough exploration of a truly fruitful formula. If Cinematronica was a genre, Holroyd would be at the forefront of it.

Jake Mitchell

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