Bob Holroyd Drumming Up A Storm

In the vein of his influences and counterparts such as David Byrne, Peter Gabriel and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bob Holroyd recently released A Different Space. The album is a conceptual journey that attempts and succeeds at bringing African call-and-response vocal and percussion practices, as well as Asian instrumentation, into dialogue with his own experiments in programming. This isn't new terrain for the seasoned composer who formed Soundscape Productions in 1987 to create aural washes for films and documentaries. Coupled with his travels abroad, unexpected combinations come easy and are well rehearsed. No one would dare to accuse the musician of conceptual laziness, because the experiments are phenomenally tight and intricately layered. The single from A Different Space, "Drumming Up A Storm," is remixed here by dZihan and Kamien, Romanthony and Holroyd himself, including the radio edit. Clocking in at under-30 minutes, the various remixes are wondrously produced. The radio edit naturally stands out with the call-and-response vocals placed in the forefront of the frenetic rhythm section. However, it is Holroyd's own remix, which is the final track on this four-song EP, that is the clincher. It starts slow, with a hint of reverberating but not elaborate vocal samples, then a strong Latin flavour takes over midway through the seven-minute remix, with high-pitched horns, before a totally unexpected tabla break appears. It's a total aural feast and the various parts featured are no token gestures. Holroyd's programming sits back to feature the tabla in a way that even Talvin Singh should find enviable. It's a perfect but surprising conversation between the screaming horn solo and the breakbeat tabla. Overall, this EP is a tempting starter. (Six Degrees)