Laroca: Valley Of The Bears(Album Review)

Welcome to the world of music reviews, a world that often delivers the interesting, and unexpected onto your C.D player. Laroca is a core duo of Rob Pollard and Olly Wakeford, and associated musicians who record and perform with them. They release their album ‘Valley Of The Bears’ on June 15th, and I can honestly say I’ve not heard anything quite like it before, at least not all on one C.D.

I’ve never really understood how people come to title instrumental tracks the way they do, and if the titles have any association with the music being played out. It ignites your curiosity though, when you see titles like Elevator Tester, Eerie, and Pluck on Laroca’s C.D. These guys clearly have a lot of imagination, and have created a really fun album to listen too.

I read the press material after listening to the album, and most of the descriptions and thoughts on the album echoed my own notes, so I think I can safely say I ‘get’ Laroca’s music. Electronica, world music, and digital production techniques, have been combined with flutes, guitars, and trumpets to create something different for 2009. There are tracks like ‘Brassic’ and ‘La Glorieta’ that would be right at home in a Latin American ballroom, such is the strength of the tango rhythms, particularly on Brassic. Laroca change directions several times on this C.D, moving from Latin American, to the chillout/ambient vibes on ‘Elevator Tester’, and the funky guitar riffs, and blues rhythms on ‘Eerie’. There’s also a hint of France in the track ‘Carpe Diem’, which also features the only rap on the C.D, and a pulsing gypsy/folk rhythm on Yallah Andalucia. My slight criticism of this track is that the chants, though traditional, sound like someone is in pain! That would probably be my one low point on the album, as it’s an interesting idea but not as easy to listen too. Overall though, I think this album did achieve what it set out to. It delivers powerful cinematic qualities that transport you easily to a variety of places, a strong European influence, and enough interesting sounds to see you through a chilled out/reflective summer’s day.

Check out their unique blend of funk, soul, and folk at www.myspace.com/larocauk.

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