29 October 2011

Bob Holroyd - afterglow (2011)

I have no other example in mind about such a drastic change of style for a musician. If the process was opened on his previous album, "Beachcombing", mostly with the opening track "Glow", on "Afterglow" we are decades, light-years away, with a radically different scenario. 

"Afterglow" mixes ambient, minimalism and (neo-)classicism, with both mastership and humility. It's a very delicate,  subtle, balanced and refined record, which, even if offering no revolution or unexpected surprises, fulfills everything you could expect from such record. It is introspective, inviting and contemplative but fluid with nice structure and textures. 

What makes the differences is the absence of vocal samples and of drums and beats, two elements who had an unfocussing effect on me on his previous album. There are musicians playing cello, horns and acoustic guitars, but has been processed next, composed and constructed, in order to reach a very synthetic and personal, layered, perspective.
These 45 minutes nicely depicts the atmosphere of an afterglow during the first part of autumn, when the diminishing influence of summer is still like a comforting background ghost, masking the reddening colors of leaves and the expectation of no so distant frosted mornings.
I am so critical about the previous discography of Bob Holroyd that I'm utterly flabbergasted by the perfection of "Afterglow", not a weak track, not an hesitation, not a shortcut, no inconsiderate pretension. From the first note to the last hum, he is adopting a low and modest profile, and "Afterglow" is a successful proof of concept about his capacity to achieve a much more reflexive and  ambitious form of expression. 

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