This alternative-ambient album packs enormous expression onto a small venue, which resonates with the album’s title and theme: “Freedom is a larger cage, a longer page, a wider state/True freedom comes not from escape but allowing everything in.” The material has an avant-garde edge to it and merges synthesized sounds with that of contributing musicians on cello, bass, horns and guitar.

The nature of this experimental material emphasizes the idea of freedom. Holroyd explains that he was “allowing things to be discovered.”  This is his ninth studio album and the experience is evident in the high production quality. Holroyd is shifts music composition into sound sculpture by building layers and layers of sound textures and effects.

Each track has its own subtle character and sound tapestry. Track 3: Falling Together spreads into an epic audio landscape. Track 5: Possibilities veers toward outer-space ambient effects rolling like waves on the shore of the cosmos. Track 8: Woven incorporates a percussion track into the layers that gives the piece a feeling of being more driven and goal-oriented. Track 9: If Ever There Was A Time is like a fluffy musical cloud floating across a clear blue sky. Thematic material and effects are recycled here and there through the pieces, giving the album greater unity and coherence.

The balance between live musicians and synthetic sounds makes the music more accessible. Track 11: Wings Clipped includes a flowing acoustic guitar track that adds a palpable human touch to the otherworldly synth effects.

This album will appeal to listeners who prefer instrumental-ambient sounds with a slightly experimental edge. Some health care and healing modality practitioners may find this soft, mind-expanding musical landscape suitable for their practice. It is suitable for mind-body work, meditation and yoga, as well as for pre-sleep meditation and relaxation. “The Cage” presents sophisticated material that remains highly accessible to listeners. Recommended.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist Bob Holroyd
12 tracks, 59 minutes
CD - $11.91, mp3 - $9.49.