Bob Holroyd's musical journey is very well summed up by the name of the band that he formed at sixth form college -
Fluidity & Structure was the soundtrack to an audio visual art installation. Each visual work, created by Bob using a complex blend of graphic and photographic techniques, was complimented by its own piece of music, thus extending the filmscore concept into the spheres of modern art. Initially installed/performed in the Maltings Art Gallery in his home town of Farnham, Surrey in September 1993, it later went on to 'The Big Chill' in London, and the EMMA Festival in Derby.
His second album Stages, also on the Soundscape label featured the first recording of Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) for 14 years since his premature retirement from the music industry. Having been granted special permission to record the Islamic Call to Prayer inside the Regent's Park mosque in London, it was a pleasant surprise to find that Yusuf Islam had come to sing the Holy text. Bob then composed a track around this haunting vocal.
A Different Space was Bob's third album, and the first on the US Six Degrees label. Released to critical acclaim it featured the cult classic African Drug. Previously remixed by pioneering DJs Coldcut, this version is actually Bob's own remix of the original track, which first appeared on Fluidity & Structure. Since the release of A Different Space, Bob's music has seen a surge of licencing which has seen tracks from the album appearing on at least 50 compilations including Ministry of Sounds Pure Global Chillout, Francois K's The Essential Mix, Coldcut's Journeys by DJs, Buddha Beats, and Claude Challe 's Sun. The track The Sheer Weight of Memory also appears in the Wayne Wang film The Centre of the World.
The fourth, and latest album Without Within includes a cover of the classic Peter Gabriel track Games Without Frontiers. It is the first cover Bob has done, and also the first time he has sung on a release. It also features American singer and multi instrumentalist Happy Rhodes on backing vocals, and the song, although 23 years old is as relevant today as it was when it was first recorded; perhaps even more so. Another highlight on this new album is the first track Looking Back. It is a piece written using the voices of the Kalahari Bushmen (Khoi San) and was first released on a charity compilation titled Sanscapes One on the MELT 2000 label to draw attention to the plight of the Kalahari Bushmen and their struggle to survive. Later at a special benefit concert in London, !Ngubi , whose voice is heard on Looking Back expressed via an interpreter that this was the Bushmen's favourite track on the entire record! This, for Bob sums up what music can and should be all about. Neither spoke each others language, and their backgrounds are so different as to be virtually impossible to compare, but they each found that music can cross these cultural divides and lead to a better understanding of each other. The music of the Bushmen represents very much their 20,000 year old history and their daily way of life. Although many of these ways haven't changed for centuries, they are still a living, evolving people, perfectly summed up by the new song they now sing having been on a plane to England -
Recorded mostly in his home town of Farnham, the album Hollow Man has a less world feel about it compared to previous offerings. It still has the trademark spacious, textural, cinematic qualities of past work, but draws more from Bob's immediate environment rather than influences farther afield. The result is a less percussive, more introspective urban sounding album that nevertheless still draws on a wide variety of styles including ambient, trip-
Another departure is recording the majority of the album with No.1 album producer/engineer Simon Painter who has worked with a wide variety of people including flute virtuoso Ian Clarke, and Carter USM, and has helped in developing Holroyd's layered, textural guitar sound which appears on many of the new tracks. The album also includes a bonus CD -