Robocobra Quartet
Living Isn't Easy


3.0
good

Review

by MiloRuggles STAFF
June 21st, 2022 | 15 replies


Release Date: 06/17/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mechasnek Sextet

A certain strain of contentious and sometimes brilliant music is evoked when phrases like “improvising post-punk w/ saxophones and voice” and “nine songs loosely based around one character trying to make sense of modernity” are seen on a British outfit’s Bandcamp page. Excited? I’m not sure either.

The band in question today have nothing to lose and everything to gain right from the word Robocobra. Following that word with Quartet tames the tiger a little, perhaps even suggests a formal streak, but wait — six musicians are credited? What might one reasonably expect if even their name can’t be trusted? Well, Squid aren’t Squids, and Black Midi use real instruments, so, uh, expect spoken word delivering lyrics pulled from corners of Wordpress better left unplumbed. Expect humble beginnings, obnoxious endings; maybe some clips of band members farting to lighten the mood. Expect humorous and oddly predictable subversion, perhaps led by a drummer-vocalist. Expect middle class aspirations grinding against musical talent of the tertiary variety. Expect accolades and hyperbole.

Well, Eunice, focus your failing eyes on that bingo card, because you’ve got at least a line.

Let’s dial back the unnecessary sass. There’s no need to shout, “BINGO, THEY’RE SHITE” just yet; these Belfastians are class and sometimes make very good music. What kind of class, you ask? Really quite specifically the I-wear-a-suit-and-play-post-punk-and-smoke-cigarrettes kind of class to be honest, but they have played Montreux Jazz Festival and say “fuck” on record, so it’s probably justified. What kind of very good music do they sometimes make then? Ask the killer rhythm section first. A subtle maestro mans a drumkit that cuts straight down the middle with a viscerally flappy kick drum, and an array of crystal clear bass tones capable of (and tasked with) carrying entire songs on their backs lay down some thick sourdough which is suitably buttered by various reeds carrying airs breezy and bountiful.

Truthfully, this only gets the band so far, and a listener’s benefit of the doubt may have subsided by the time they trudge through the lethargic first three minutes of ‘Chromo Sud’, but hang in there! The back half of the track actually goes somewhere! Washes of keys expand outward from a slowly maneuvering bassline, brass flickers at the edges before one of many saxes hits center stage, the drums get busy and provide an injection of pace, the soloing sax gets to bloody rippin’, and for the first time in this listening experience excitement abounds. These slithery androids feel it too, and stretch this hypnotic section for a decent length before letting it gently descend into silence. This is the kinda content that’ll get me spouting track-by-tracks against my better judgment.

‘Plant (The Succulent Blues)’ manages to follow this lengthy centerpiece amiably, with even the lyricism scanning as less “discarded packaging makes me question whether existence is worthwhile” and more “christ my life is dismal, feel it with me”. For those wondering, this is a vast improvement. Admittedly, improving on our protagonist facetiously documenting the way his Modern Man Blues has him obsessing over the exactitude of his sleep, the pH content of his urine, the effectiveness of Himalayan salt lamps, and the benefits of charcoal-activated water shouldn’t be too difficult.

Nevertheless, the headline here is Potential, Potential, Potential! Is this a silly thing to say about a rather well-established band who appear to be eking out a living in one of the world’s most unforgiving industries? Yes, but remember you fuckin’ nerds, we’re here out of love. Personally, I’d love to see this band punch out further in any direction: whether that’s making the dramatic noisy stuff more violent (or lengthy) than the cute little outburst that punctuates ‘Kilmore Close’, diving headlong into the shimmering subtlety that is sometimes hinted at, or perhaps merging these facets into something authoritative and entirely their own. Let’s see that vocalist inject an array of emotions and the keys make more appearances. Let’s see you nosedive a song into a jazz freakout outta absolutely nowh—

BINGO



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user ratings (7)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2022


2075 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This band is SWEET and I want to see some iteration of them live at some point! Check their tunes here: https://robocobraquartet.bandcamp.com/album/living-isnt-easy?fbclid=IwAR3CgSie-HasTNdKah4-OE0qd89BOlyzVdCwWTAM0EaoZsPqkLUW7Sovcss

anat
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2022


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice stuff milo!! I know I slung you the SORBET solo but have you heard the last robocobra too? i think it sits a little higher than this one

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2022


2075 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I watched a couple of live performances that had older (or just different? they improvise a lot, right?) tracks and v much enjoyed them, but haven't listened yet no. I'll give'em both a listen soon!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2022


48653 Comments


this review is SWEET and i am the artwork boi. who are you?

parksungjoon
June 21st 2022


44637 Comments


can someone compare this to bands from before 2010 so i know if i should check

anat
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2022


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

there aren't any bands from before 2010

parksungjoon
June 21st 2022


44637 Comments


really?

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2022


48653 Comments


who cares
check shiner

RunOfTheMill
June 21st 2022


4330 Comments


> i am the artwork boi.

cool if true.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2022


48653 Comments


haha, if only!

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2022


2075 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

JohnnyofthePark, disappointed the NASDAQ's gone down three points and contemplating yelling about it with his band.



>can someone compare this to bands from before 2010 so i know if i should check

Um, oh shit oh fuck no, nobody can. Listen to the plant song and see if you like it.



Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2022


28294 Comments


Jazzy post punk and Milo approved? Definitely jamming this.

Digging: Autumn's Grey Solace - Within the Depths of a Darkened Forest

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2022


2075 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I can always count on my boo Dewi for reckoning and checkening. let me know what you think, there appears to be divided opinions on this bad boi

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2022


28294 Comments


gave it a quick skim yesterday and gotta agree with that rating my man, the vocals could be a bit more... charismatic? But I like the concept, the sax was sex, would keep them on watch for the future.

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2022


2075 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, it was quite odd checking the vocalists solo album and hearing some serious ambition. He seems to have really reined himself in here



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