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Laroca - Valley Of The Bears

Laroca, Valley of the Bears

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

LAROCA – aka Rob Pollard and Olly Wakeford – follow up their debut album Friends In Far Away Places and take a mighty step forward.

Whereas the debut was a flawed collection of cinematically influenced grooves, Valley of The Bears, their ambitious latest, is a genuinely fine collection of instrumentals that traverse a wide range of influences.

Everything from David Holmes-influenced funk to Arabic-tinged flamenco is thrown at the listener to create a wonderfully rich soundscape to suit every mood.

Pollard and Wakeford have got busy with instrumental layering to create the type of epic music that could grace the classic cinema of Morricone or the more modern fare of Tarantino or Steven Soderbergh. There’s seldom a dull moment.

Album opener Brassic sets the standard early, teasing the listener with horn samples, sublime electronics and a lazy trip-hop shuffle, while simultaneously sound-checking Scott Joplin.

La Glorieta gets even more playful, waltzing its way along to a Bonobo-style piece of flamenco-tinged fun (complete with playful horn interludes), while Elevator Tester combines horns with a spaced out, fuzzy kind of vibe that’s both Air-like and Jarre-esque.

Eerie could grace the soundtrack of one of David Holmes Ocean’s 11 scores, dropping funky rhythms with scintillating flute samples, before the bass-heavy Carpe Diem (Profites De La Vie) combines the laidback vibe of Les Nuits era Nightmares on Wax with French hip-hop tendencies.

Thereafter, the hits keep on coming – constantly changing styles, and almost always surprising in a pleasant way.

Title track Valley of the Bears offers more horns over jazzy pianos, Yallah Andalucia thrillingly combines flamenco guitars with Eastern influences to emerge as the outstanding album highlight, and HomeM brings things to the most tranquil and beautiful of finales in perfect chillout fashion.

Only the slightly wishy-washy People Mountain People Sea and the lazy jazz of Pluck strike a slightly underwhelming note.

But in all other respects, this is a terrific achievement – one that’s rich in ambition, high on quality and really deserving of a huge fanbase. Finding that will arguably become Laroca’s biggest achievement.

Download picks: Yallah Andalucia, Eerie, Valley of the Bears, Home, La Glorieta

Track listing:

  1. Brassic
  2. La Glorieta
  3. Elevator Tester
  4. Eerie
  5. Carpe Diem (Profites De La Vie)
  6. Valley of the Bears
  7. People Mountain People Sea
  8. Yallah Andalucia
  9. Unit 125
  10. Pluck
  11. Home